Preface: You google. I google. We all google. No big doogle. But since Google's been referenced on television shows like ER and Law &Order, plus NPR and the NYTimes have run features—both about the company and the introduction of a new verb into our lexicon—I thought Mr. Film and Television Rights might share some Google stories, because like you or someone you know, I'm Google obsessive.
In the previous century, around '96, Wired coined a term for the act of searching for your own name on the Interweb. I recall thinking it was clever, but the term didn't catch on (sorry Wired) and it's long forgotten (Egosearch? Search-in-Vain Engine?). [I do remember back then the Web was called "interconnected network of computing-based html and ftp locations, or INCBHFL, (pronounced Inkbuffle). That name didn't stick either. And oddly enough, neither did "The Net," now only referenced to poke fun at Sandra Bullock.]
In those frontier days I was toggling between Altavista and Lycos, searching for my name (or people with my name), and quietly laughing at my vanity (and many of the people with my name). Those were heady and frenzied times and soon the search engines morphed into heady and frenzied gargantuans, what at least one goofball named portals, and these search engines/portals became completely obnoxious. I was forced to limit my time-wasting searches and instead perused some now-defunct portal's horoscopes, which were always prominently displayed. (Astrology robots being where the venture capital was momentarily heaped.) Growing bored with horoscopes that often suggested "Today is a good day to work hard and not approach your boss with trivial matters," I switched my start-up page to the NYTimes or Arts & Letters Daily, frittering away hours reading long, well-written articles and generally improving my knowledge. That lasted a few years, then (thank heavens) in early 1999, a friend introduced me to Google.
Meat: By now we all know Google's story and how it unites us. And its powerful allure to those who may very well suffer from OCD. I'd like to share the three main ways I spend time with my friend Google. I'd explain the fourth and fifth ways, but those are too esoteric and strange.
I've mentioned I search for my name. Every day. Without fail. As if miraculously I'd done something I was unaware of the evening before, (maybe won a prize?) and it was splayed across the Inkbuffle, sorry, I mean the Web.
Then, of course, I search for friends, enemies, or combinations thereof—coworkers. It's a good feeling, say, if someone gives you attitude at the office and after googling them you discover he/she has numerous posts on ilovebabyducks.com.
Sometimes I induce a trance-like state, and channel someone I haven't thought about in decades, perhaps a kindergarten chronic paste-eater, a childhood bully, a high school crush, someone I didn't know well or guessed might be in jail. Whatever name appears in my vacant mind.
Remembering them is half the fun, but I almost always find some trace of their lives. Then after glancing over my crush's inscrutable macroeconomics thesis from 1998 or downloading the paste-eater's white water rafting pictures or applauding the bully's charity and health related to his 23rd place finish in the Cedar Rapids 10K runathon, I move on.
I tell myself I could contact them, but I haven't. I won't. But occasionally I do actually meet and talk with friends and family, and then I share my newly-googled news. "I heard Mark Rowan is studying to be a bishop." Or "No, Marla Jessup has an organic feedstore conveniently located off I-79. You're thinking of Marlene—she married the racecar driver."
And then, as I'm sure many others do as well, I use Google to gauge something or someone's cultural presence. It's popularity. Hype. Buzz. "Just give me the numbers," I'd call to my assistant, if I had one. For instance, the writer Heidi Julavits, who's been in the culture news lately, can claim 579 websheets where her name appears—spelled incorrectly as Julavitz on another 12—totaling 591. Not bad.
A young writer I like, ZZ Packer, who just published her first book of stories, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, scores 3,170. She's an up and comer.
ZZ and Heidi's contemporary, the international phenomenon Zadie Smith, whose White Teeth has recently been adapted for the BBC and PBS, comes in at a strong 16,500.
And a writer who's career is the better part of a century older—although he died 20 years before his literary career began—Gerard Manley Hopkins, garners 16,800, but for some reason 547 fans spell his middle name "Manly" which puts the total at 17,047.
And just so we don't lose sight of what's important, Andrew Dice Clay, that tragic comedic flash of the late 1980s, wins out with 21,600.
Andy Blitz, who regularly appears in sketches on Conan, was given a stand-up slot recently. He did great. I like him, and to see the buzz his Late Night debut created, I googled "andy blitz + conan." Google says 580. Perhaps Andy Blitz googles himself. (Hey Andy.) So this will be 581. I suspect he'll break 1,000 soon enough.
And Conan O'Brien, who's often made me late for work, and I think finally will admit he's well-liked, hits 94,800.
The List: Andy Blitz = 580 Heidi Julavits(z) = 591 ZZ Packer = 3,170 happyrobot = 3,710 Zadie Smith = 16,500 Gerard Manley (Manly) Hopkins = 17,047 Andrew Dice Clay = 21,600 Conan O'Brien = 94,800 Sandra Bullock = 340,000 (Jim J. Bullock: -1,370) Vishnu = 212,000 Yahweh = 345,000 Krishna = 870,000 Mohammed = 1,210,000 Buddha = 1,700,000 Jesus Christ = 2,590,000 God (The winner!) at a whopping 44,200,000
Coda: The fourth way I Google—I can't describe briefly and accurately. But brief and inaccurate: It involves historical documents, pioneers, and comparing photographs of their many descendants, and the silent satisfaction of knowing who is related to whom.
The fifth way is I'll search for phrases, usually too personal to repeat, taken from Mr. Film and Television Rights life, e.g., "I was once attacked by a swan," and see who else out there has had like experiences, which I guess is similar to scouring the web for one's own name–some semblance of one's self out there in the ether.