With Halloween coming up soon (or at least it seems to be with store shelves are already stocked with Halloween candy), are there any interesting ARGs related to Googlegängers? Most of the information I've found on Googlegängers (by using Google no less) seems to deal with people's confusion, frustration, or amusement at finding their same-name virtual doppelgänger. I know I'm always hoping to overtake the real Laurie Taylor on Google rankings. To me, the real one is the one who's more often higher on a Google Search--in my case, the one who works for the BBC. I'm also always hoping the bad one--who wanted books banned--will drop out of Google listings (latest news on that one is from 2005, but it's still on the first page of results). A great ARG could focus on finding one's Googlegänger, maybe just trying to beat them in Google rankings, or something else.

The presence of Googlegängers--or even the lack--begs for some sort of playful approach. It also begs for name-play; after all, the bulk of the web is in English, so those with non-English names and spellings are more likely to be Googlegänger-free, at least for awhile.

How many of us have Googlegängers? How many of us already know how many and who they are (I know some have found theirs and read about them)? Does anyone have special interests in any of their Googlegängers? Has anyone met their Googlegängers? I haven't met any, but I get email a few times a year through school email, since I'm one of several Laurie Taylor's at UF, and others from various sources. For awhile, I kept getting emails for one in Maryland and I deleted the first few, but then the messages were "URGENT!" so I replied that they had the wrong person. I get fewer of those now, but random emails still come through.

I wonder if I added my own Laurie Taylor to the BBC's Laurie Taylor monopoly on Wikipedia if I'd climb in Google rankings. More likely, Wikipedia would remove my entry and Google would de-list my site for trying to manipulate them, but I might try it anyways. Of course, that might just mean more emails with family pictures for another Laurie Taylor's family and that's awkward (do I wait and hope they realize their mistake until 2 emails, or more?). What can we do about and with modern identity confusion created by the ever present and ever-increasing Googlegängers?

Samus is my Googlegänger =)

...well, okay, it's only for two entries on Google Images, BUT it's still pretty cool.

I stopped tracking my Googlegängers a long time ago, because I would more often get bored before I found myself in the long lists of Amanda Phillipses out there. To tell you the truth, I'm having a hard time figuring out which Amanda Phillips is the real one. I don't think the first page of Google entries has a duplicate. I don't appear until Page 11 or something awful. So my identity issues are pretty minimal, considering there isn't really one other Amanda Phillips to get me confused with.

Do your relatives or friends ever try to Google you? My mom doesn't realize that her browser saves all her search queries, and she has tried to look both myself and my brother up in multiple ways.

Some interesting stats about Amanda Phillips:
-They tend to be photographers (from New Zealand to Georgia!)
-A few of them are long dead (the name comes up a couple times on genealogy research sites)
-She is seriously into lesbian BDSM (my mom MUST have gotten bored before finding that one)
-She is an Olympic weightlifter

To be honest, I first found the weightlifter several years ago in a magazine. I don't know if that makes her a real Googlegänger or not.

My results with Google Images are much more satisfactory. I come up three times in the first two pages, twice as Samus, and once as a dragon.

All three of those leave me quite satisfied. Who says I can't be a dragon?

Job Market

This is an interesting question when you're on the job market. Fortunately, I have a fairly uncommon name, but there are a handful of other Zach Whalens out there. I watch my google presence pretty closely, and it looks like there's been a recent update since at the moment the whole first page is me. Fortunately, it's a pretty decent cross section of what I do, encompassing my primary website, Gameology, a CSS list-serve I used to be on, and a class messageboard.

The images are also mostly in reference to me, although the first one is a caricature of michael jackson which was somehow linked to from Gameology at some point. The first photo of an actual person is me, though it isn't the most flattering one since I'm nearing the end of a half-marathon. There is, however, a nice one of me, Stacy, and Teddy on the second page of images, so hopefully a potential employer can figure out that that's the real Zach Whalen.

So what about Facebook? I've found 5 or 6 Zach Whalens that way, but I haven't asked them to be my friend. I've seen people do that, though. I have mixed emotions about Facebook anyway, since it brings together such different aspects of my life in rather jarring ways. For example, my mom is my Facebook friend. Since Facebook is now open to anyone, how does that affect your public persona in the context of a job search?

Anyway, I definitely see the game-like aspects of negotiating Googlegangers (can't find the umlaut) in search rankings. I've put a conscious effort into getting my personal home page up to number one for searches on my name. Fortunately there isn't of competition.

One of the professors at my

One of the professors at my university has an amazing story about meeting his Googleganger on the NY subway. Apparently his ganger was NOT happy that this professor had swarmed Google and all but wiped out the primacy of his listings.

I was confident I would never have one, given my bizarre name (specifically the Higgin instead of Higgins). However, last year a minor league baseball pitcher appeared and was giving me a decent run on rankings for awhile. I would love to contact him some day.

Now if I could just overtake that flame-blog about the GTA book...


Well, at least you have a

Well, at least you have a googleganger. I'm willing to bet I'm the only Darshana Jayemanne representin'.

Bittersweet victory?

I have the top result for my name, although Google suggests that perhaps I was looking for "san bruno." Yeah, whatever, Google.

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