my own googlegängers

I hadn’t previously heard the word “googlegängers”, which the American Dialect Society deemed “most creative” word last year. But I love the concept, which Stephanie Rosenbloom explored in the NYT today. Apparently lots of people follow the lives and careers of people with the same names as themselves.

Rosenbloom relates this to the recent flurry of research (or maybe it’s just a flurry of attention to the research) about people having affinity with their names, making decisions based on their names, and so on — e.g., people whose name is Virginia moving to Virginia; people whose names begin with G more likely to vote for Gore and people whose names begin with B more likely to vote for Bush; people whose names begin with A more likely to do well in school than people whose names begin with F. Rosenbloom reports that believers in free will cringe — really? I don’t see how or why. The fact that we have some ego-driven preferences doesn’t change the fact that it’s still our own particular preferences, the things that we see as related to our ego, and ultimately our own decisions and actions.

My own googlegängers have changed. When I used to be Laura Doyle (through 1995) there were lots more, including — how annoying — some rightwinger who wrote books giving advice on staying womanly and submissive to one’s husband. Shades of The Handmaid’s Tale. (I like to think of her work as “The Sundered Wife.”)

After changing my last name to Quilter (a family name from my mother’s side of the family), the company is much more pleasant:
* A college student who was a basketball player — easy to tell us apart! She was at Fort Wayne, Indiana, but I’m guessing she graduated, because her recent basketball scores don’t turn up as frequently. I think this is probably the same Laura Quilter who won an academic travel award.
* A New Zealand swimmer with the “Comets”. (The other Laura Quilters are more athletic than me.)
* A Laura Quilter in the UK who has done some churchwork, including on a fair trade booth (go social justice Laura Quilter!)
* And all the actual quilters whose names are “Laura”, of whom right now “Laura Heine” seems to turn up the most frequently.

Of course since my work is all about the Internet it’s harder to find these other Laura Quilters — Sorry, other LQs: if searching technology were smarter the system would consolidate our names & subgroup all my Internet-friendly stuff under my name, thus making your names easier to find. You can search yourselves by searching our name, and then adding a “minus sign” in front of phrases like “-copyright law”, “-trespass to chattel”, “-librarian”, “-feminist science fiction”, “-chilling effects”, “-derivate work”, and so on.

But I’ve enjoyed reading about you. Drop me a line sometime.