Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Narcisstic googling (or, Why I am soooooo popular)

So one of my former students (who is currently "somewhere on K Street with my soul being taken away") sent me this message:

So after reading your latest blog—yes I admit it—I went into Google to find the commercial and watch it. I typed in “American Express Kate Winslet commercial” and not only did I eventually find it. But your blogspot turned up on THE FIRST PAGE OF GOOGLE. Therefore you’re a bonafide star now. You made the front page of Google, without even trying, and certainly and thankfully without paying for it. Haha.

Naturally, this led me to wonder what happens if you google my name directly. Looking at "Jeffrey Middents" naturally brings up some usual suspects, including various things at AU, some publications and news items and, of course, this blog (which, if you didn't know this, can also be accessed through www.jeffreymiddents.com, thanks to my sister-in-law). Indeed, the only amusing thing accessed using my full name is a letter to the editor of my college newspaper where I got on my high horse after someone wrote an editorial about how the gay right movement shouldn't be equated to the civil rights movement. (Said writer, about whose writing I wrote "provided great opportunity to show exactly how bad writing can confuse and anger your readers," apparently now works for The Nation. Oops.)

Putting "Jeff Middents" in, however, yields some more entertaining results. For one, the main things that come up are programs for The Sorcerer and Ruddigore, two shows I performed with The University of Michigan Gilbert and Sullivan Society. Thankfully, there are no pictures here, or at least not of me. I also appear in the script for the graduation halftime show of the Dartmouth College Marching Band (where I played cymbals), an announcement that I got married on my fraternity alumni page and (in a related vein) a picture from big sis Sara's wedding, featuring "all the Jeffs."

Googling just "middents" thankfully does not list me first. That honor goes to my brother Jonathan who, former students may be surprised, is also a professor. (He tried to talk me out of it. Silly man.)

Inputting my college fraternity nickname and my last name on pulls up one relevant result. Thankfully. In this way, my students won't find it out without looking very hard. No, I will not coddle you by giving you the nickname here.

What is amusing is how this has all changed, of course. There was a time when googling me would result in one photograph of me handing back student papers on the picket line when we had a work stoppage at Michigan. Given how fat and horrible I looked, I'm glad that appears to have disappeared.

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