Since most of the projects and jobs I work on are online, that’s where I tend to pick up the most feedback. About a week ago, I came across a blog post where the author was musing on whether or not I was abandoning one of my shows, and I chimed in on the comments to clear the air. To my surprise, some of the other people who commented started pontificating on if I had “Googled” myself to find the blog post. Wait, haven’t we moved past that stigma? I mean, who doesn’t Google themselves these days?
That last question is a little unfair; clearly there are people in the world who haven’t bothered to set up a Google alert in their RSS reader for their own name, nor have they spent any time on the Technorati blog search page. Sometimes it’s virtually impossible for that to be a feasible way of finding information about oneself online (I’m looking at you, Will Smith ). As our lives move increasingly online, the benefits of knowing what information about you is being put on the public internet are huge. When “Googling” has become a verb, we’re past the point of concerning ourselves over a vanity search here and there.
Let’s look at one of the most important (and timely) reasons to stick your name into a search box: job hunting. Potential employers head to Google for an unfiltered gander into your online life, despite some questionable ethics involved. While we all know that it’s very difficult to remove anything that’s been put up on the Internet permanently (there’s always caching to worry about) doing a search on yourself can allow you to find some problem areas and fix them. Check your privacy settings on Facebook, too, and make sure that you untag any “unflattering” photos or videos of yourself. Sure, it seems obvious, but people have been fired for less . When you actually have some control over what shows up in a search of your name, you should take advantage of it.
As I mentioned, one of the main reasons I keep track of my name and the titles of my projects in Google is to keep up to date on feedback. This goes for anyone that writes, produces content, develops software or hardware, etc. If you build it, they will talk about it (for better or for worse). If someone has an issue or comment, oftentimes they think to blog about it before they think to ask you directly. Unless it’s something that’s best taken to email (or ignored completely due to trollish behavior) engaging in a conversation in the comments of a blog post is often a great way to clear the air. Plus, speaking from experience, it’s nice to write about an issue and get immediate feedback from the parties involved.
If you’re still feeling weird about it, just look at Twitter as a microcosm of the web. People use Twitter IDs to reference someone in a tweet, and you see those comments on your replies page. Think of Google alerts as your “replies page” for the rest of the Internet -- when people write a blog post about you or your work, they should expect you to see it, instead of being surprised!