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August 30, 2006

EL236 Look What My Name Did for Me

I find it interesting that this assignment is termed "self-assessment," when, actually, I'm asking Google to assess me with its logarithm. If I assess the material that is displayed when I search for "Karissa Kilgore," however, I am pleasantly surprised. I find that—even if I expand the search to include results that are "repeated," as Google puts it—there are only about four or five links that do not relate to me, the "Karissa Kilgore" that I was hoping to find in my search. It's nice, but frightening, all in one keystroke, to see that you're the main source of information when your name is searched.

I suppose it helps that I have an unusual first name. For me to have the experience of finding only a handful of links on the top search engine that do not relate to me, there are only a few that share my name. That, or the other Karissa Kilgores just don't publish things on the Internet. Both are possibilities, but I do wonder how many other people have a similar experience to mine when they Google themselves. Since I'm used to being the only person that even has my first name and I come from a small town where everyone knows everyone else, it makes sense to me, at first, that I should be "the" Karissa Kilgore whose information is displayed. (I do act strangely when there actually is another Karissa around, though… I begin to doubt my hearing and I usually snap my head in multiple directions in thinking that someone is talking to or about me. It's like a flash of paranoia.) It just doesn't inherently seem possible to me that this name could apply to anyone else because I've only met a handful of people that share my first name (or even know someone else that has my first name). I have a sort of possession issue with my name, I suppose. (There are, evidently, a couple others… None with so much material so easily accessible when Googled, but to my knowledge there are at least three of us.)

Since nearly all of the information that displays when Googling "Karissa Kilgore" pertains to me, I think that it is in my best interest to keep all of the material for which I am directly responsible to a certain standard. Naturally, I have had experiences that have forced me to remove information, rephrase information, and even publish a written apology or retraction of a statement, but who hasn't? The speed with which we publish our thoughts doesn't usually give us enough time to consider how it might affect others. Our society Internet has garnered an electronic Tourettes syndrome, what with the lack of thought that goes into some posted material. I'm a stickler for spelling, grammar, and proper punctuation, but sometimes the material suffers beyond these mechanical nightmares. It's my job to keep my own record as clear as I can, as best I can, since the act of Googling is here to stay.

**I removed my paragraph regarding my ideal email address since I don't want to be spammed to death... I like my email account!

I'm not sure what would be better, though, really: to be a Jane Doe or a Karissa Kilgore. Differentiating the information that displays from one Jane to the next is probably difficult, but me? I'm not a narcissist, but evidently I'm "the" prominent Karissa Kilgore that is displayed when Googled. Now, Google isn't Lord of All by any means, but it is a powerful search tool and detective that should not be taken for granted. I find myself disappointed in Google at times, but perhaps those times are when I'm a bad searcher, not that Google is a bad finder. Is it better to be an unknown among the many or a member of an elite few? The answer to this question, I believe, is circumstantial—it depends if the searcher is looking for dirt or looking for a glowing review. I happen to have been successful at a number of things, including softball and writing, and those are the topics of some of the results that appear when I am Googled. My record is clean, and I'm grateful, because if one Jane Doe messes up, the rest of them might look bad on account of Google's name grouping. There's no DNA associated with each individual name yet, so until Google can separate by identities, the Jane Does might just have to settle for being jealous of the Karissa Kilgores out there. :)

Posted by KarissaKilgore at August 30, 2006 11:51 AM


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