Friday, October 3, 2008

My digital identity

The first time I Googled myself was in high school. I had no internet presence beyond a pink AOL web page, so the returned list of links consisted mostly of pages like "Cats of Witchcraft" and "Starcraft Cadet" -- crazy people in other states who shared my name and were somehow more important than I was.

So today I got an email from a student who addressed me as Ms. Avery. Not unusual, but I'm also called Mr. Avery plenty frequently in emails from strangers, so today I wondered how this particular guy knew I was a Ms. It could be a guess, but maybe he did his research.

(Related: Offline this week, I've been called Miss once and Ma'am twice, which has made me wonder if I'm officially venturing out Miss territory and into the greying, retirement-planning years of Ma'am. Why is there no middle ground for women between the juvenile and the matronly?)

So anyway, I Googled again. But instead of strangers responding to my call, I found versions of myself. Me as CSE Adviser. Me as "24 - Female - Seattle" on MySpace. Me as Amazon shopper, writer of nerdy reviews for special kitchen equipment and pet clippers. Me as instructor for a CSE seminar course. Only one link on this first Google page is not me, and frankly it's a bit disconcerting to find that list of crazy people online sharing my name is in fact mostly myself.

I do, however, enjoy that I am now clearly more important than the Cats of Witchcraft lady.

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