Tuesday, 10 February 2009

the name fame game

(This one is in response to the coursework instruction: describe a use of a google product.)

I have two friends with interesting names: one is called Martin Trickey, the other Charlie Cattrall. Martin is currently a commissioning executive with BBC Entertainment, which means he gets to spend millions of the Licence Fee money. Bizarrely, he is my son in law. Charlie is an actor, and an ex student, and, since I borrowed his first name, appearance, and profession for a lead character in a novel I co-wrote, I have a curiously close relationship with him.

The point, though, is this: they both have googleable names. If you search for them, you only find them and no-one else. This is very useful for someone in showbusiness, obviously. I use it like this.

You can set up a thing called a Google Alert. Follow the link, sign in with your google ID, and follow instructions. I follow both Martin and Charlie. Whenever they pop up on the Web, I get an email from Google giving me a link that takes me there. If Charlie is in a new show, I get to see the show website, and the reviews (if they mention his name). If Martin were (God forbid) to attract the baleful attention of the Daily Mail, I would know. This is quite handy.

Tom Davis, however, is an extremely ungoogleable name. And it is quite interesting to find out what the Web is saying about my work. I also follow therefore two other search terms: 'Tom Davis Lacan' and 'Tom Davis handwriting'. The results are sometimes entertaining, and often useful.

And, for those less narcissistic than I seem to be, you can of course search concepts. So, I have a search item 'forensic handwriting analysis'. Every time a fellow handwriting expert gets their name in the newspaper pronouncing on a case, I hear about it, and get a version of what they say. Anywhere in the world. This is extremely useful. I recommend it.


  1. Sounds interesting! Now if you could get those as rss in Google reader instead of as emails...

    'Oliver Mason' is rather annoying: I used to get myself first, but now the top hits on google are some upstart actor, who even has his own Wikipedia entry. Not sure how I can push him off that top spot again!

  2. I should have known: you can get it as a feed! Brilliant. Shame this doesn't work with all software features that I think of.

  3. Can't think which software you mean, Oliver ;) Actually, I'm waiting for google to allow us to collect our reader feeds in the gmail environment. My life would be complete.

    Back to the post, though - wonderful! Thanks for the info about google alerts, Tom, that's a really creative use and I've just gone and set a couple up for myself (just google 'google alerts').

    "...for those less narcissistic than I seem to be..." - we're all narcissistic, aren't we? Anyway, you've sparked something here - a search on 'William Miller'brought me some Americans (preacher, publisher actor), on 'Bill Miller', financier, photographer, musician. But, not me...

    Narrowed down to UK, with the addition of '+grimsby' also struck out - but... a search on 'bill miller +skills' gave me the second and third results googled 'bill miller +elearning' took me right to the top (even if the actual results are thoroughly uninspiring). Yaay!

    Come on everybody - google yourself and post your findings in this discussion thread :-)

  4. Oh my God Tom!!! What an ego boost this self googling. My name is not that googlable either but upon googling 'monica borg birmingham' most hits brought up this book I had published with my supervisor. I wrote the critical edition to a collection of short stories. The whole book and my introduction is on google books, and also had a review in the International Fiction Review which describes it flatteringly as 'a labor of love'. I honestly did not think anyone had even remotely noticed that book. Fantastic Bill! Well done for this exercise!

  5. Oh and something else I found out, a Monica Borg is also some actress in a TV series called, Clodagh would you wont believe this, 'Caesar Hotel'

  6. Dave Gunning is a fairly successful Canadian folk singer and always pips me on Google searches. My wife once wrote him an email telling him that he wasn't the real Dave Gunning.
    I do occasionally Google the titles of articles I've written to see who's citing them / putting them on reading lists -- it's a good way of finding who is working on similar topics to me...

  7. Gah! I'm getting lost. Somewhere I recently wrote that 'Oliver Mason' usually gets you some actor, and then a few academics. One of whom was actually at Birmingham (and I was surprised why I got so much mail from psychology students I'd never heard of before!). Meeting this guy was a weird experience.

    Anyway, I cannot remember where I wrote this. One of the dangers of blogging and commenting I guess; you lose track of where you picked up (and dropped) certain snippets of information. Living in the Information Society...