Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Google Me

I am fascinated by Google. I am fascinated by its search paradigms. I am curious about how it tries to predict (usually incorrectly) what I am searching for. I am often bewildered by its choice of results for a given search. But above and beyond all of that, I am positively mesmerized by the results of googling myself.

Not long after I was married, I googled my name and came across a breeder of vanilla Labradors, my mother-in-law, my husband’s ex-wife, and eventually myself (listed on a theatrical board of directors and in a video of my engagement). Just this morning, I did a Google image search of myself and came up with the following:

·        Actual photos of me – exactly what I would expect (and want) from such a search.

o   My Facebook profile picture

o   A few of my elementary school photos

o   Photos from theatrical productions in which I’ve performed

o   The book I wrote on the history of my in-laws’ dance studio

·        People who share my name – an obvious connection and a reasonable result.

o   The web page of a woman who recycles used leather jackets

o   A group photo of scientists

o   My mother-in-law’s most recent professional headshot

·        People connected or related to me somehow – a shared surname or a reference to me, and another reasonable set of results.

o   My stepdaughter’s college photo

o   Various candid photos of my kids and my husband

o   Some vintage photos of my parents and grandparents

But here’s where it gets weird: There is a whole series of photographs that seem to have no relation to me or my name at all. Check out these random hits:

·        Food.

o   A breakfast dish at a diner in New Orleans which involves bacon, a soft-boiled egg, home fries, and green olives

o   A plate of deviled eggs

o   Homemade Jello fruit snacks

o   A pan of chicken alfredo with artichoke hearts

·        Random people.

o   President Obama (several times)

o   A stylist at a salon in Texas

o   People at a fundraising auction in Alabama

o   A bride and groom at a shooting range (bride is carrying a large shotgun)

o   A Bates College basketball player

·        Totally random stuff.

o   A photograph of what appears to be four empty flagpoles on fire

o   A vintage birdcage

o   A poster for a museum discussion on why Jane Austen never married

o   The schedule for a Sports Medicine symposium

o   A white picket fence draped with Mardi Gras beads

I have no doubt that if I delved deeper into these seemingly unconnected pages I would find some kind of connection. Perhaps the birdcage was pinned on Pinterest by someone who also pinned something from my Pinterest board; perhaps the deviled egg recipe is courtesy of a cook who shares my first or last name; perhaps whoever was attending the discussion of Jane Austen also linked to a blog entry I’d written about Austen’s books. There may even be some more distant connections: perhaps the basketball coach at Bates studied under my husband’s uncle, a well-known college athletic director; perhaps the pattern of the plate on which the deviled eggs were served somehow incorporates my last name; perhaps the people at the auction were raising funds for a non-profit organization to which I have made a donation.

It serves to remind me that as big as the world is, we are all more closely interconnected than we sometimes think. After all, me to Kevin Bacon is only six degrees of separation: I’ve performed in a show with Matthew Solomon, Matthew’s mother Nancy Kerrigan was on “Skating with Celebrities” with Kristy Swanson, who was in “Hot Shots!” with Cary Elwes, who was in “The Crush” with Alicia Silverstone, who was in “Beauty Shop” with Kevin Bacon. And of course, me to President Obama is only one degree. It’s true – ask Google!

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