In anticipation of an industry meeting my company is attending, I went through the list of attendees and googled the ones I was interested in finding out about. Several interesting findings are appearing from this exercise, one of which relates to the different social networks my colleagues use. More about that in my next blog.
The main finding of interest is how googlable people are, and how much information is available on people. About half of the people I am looking for are in marketing and about half are in technical fields. Most of them do not do well in search engines. So far, none of them have blogs. Almost none of them have any personal information available: not flickr accounts, not book reviews on Amazon, not even a resume.
In other words, the only way I am able to find out about my colleagues in the telecommunications industry is if they have written a feature article, are using LinkedIn or Spoke (the other social networks Google poorly), or have published a professional paper or contributed to a standards body.
On the one hand, I think, more power to them, they have managed to keep their personal lives to themselves, unlike yours truly. OTOH, I think, what losers: don't they have a life? What kind of marketing person are you if I can barely find your title online? Who are you if I can't find you online at all?
The other thing that strikes me is the huge advantage to having a relatively unique name. For those of my colleagues named John Smith, I had to search with their company name, which is fine for my purposes. However, if someone is searching for them after finding them on match.com or on their neighborhood watch committee, there is little chance that person can find out anything about them.
Thankfully, my last name is fairly unique, because my first name is not. If I had thought about online search 10 years ago, I probably would have thought twice before naming my daughter Maya, which is very popular these days. She could potentially marry someone with a common name and be virtually invisible, or at least virtually hard-to-find.
For all of you future parents, I am perfectly serious. If your family name is common, think hard about giving your child a fairly original first name. Phone books and local searches are a thing of the past; today reputations are global and your life-long unique identifier will have a significant value.