May 13 2009

Reputation: You vs. The other you

Jamie Barrows

I read an article the other day on Scott Adam’s blog titled The Other Scott Adams” In case you don’t know, Scott Adams is the creator of the Dilbert comic. A comic that helps all of us office workers keep a little sanity. And ever since I found his blog, I’ve been enjoying his daily(ish) comments on society and current events.

So anyway, back to the article. The gist of it was that in this day and age, if you have a common name, your reputation ends up closely tied to the actions of the “other” you(s) that are out there. This isn’t really a new thing. Throughout the history you can watch the popularity of names rise and fall based on the actions of prominent people. After all, no one wants to be named after a mass murderer or even have themselves associated with one via their name. What makes today’s name associations different from those of the past, is the ease with which those associations can be found.

In the past, it was unlikely that someone(with the same name) else’s actions would ever be noticed by your friends, coworkers, and relatives unless they became famous/infamous for them. These days those other you’s are a simple Google search away. And as people search engines(which I mentioned in a previous post) become more common and better at finding details about individuals, those other people with your name are going to be noticed by you and your friends even more.

So try it. Google your name and see how many other you’s there are in the first two or three pages that come back. Unless you post a lot online under your own name, you will probably be surprised at how many other you’s there are in the first three pages. Now ask yourself, is it likely that people who don’t know you very well or are potential employers likely to be able to tell which of those “you’s” that come back are really you?

Sep 14 2007

Names and forgetting

Jamie Barrows

Names comic
Here is another comic from XKCD that really hit just a little too close to home. I’m always forgetting peoples names. And I’m usually too embarrassed to admit that I forgot the name and ask again. Which is stupid. I’d be much better off just admitting I forgot than trying to find out through some underhanded and usually stupid method.

I’ve even been roped into doing things I didn’t want to do,just because I couldn’t remember the person’s name who asked me to do it. Nothing quite as extreme as the comic above, but still not something I would have done.

I’ve tried all the tricks the books talk about to help you remember the names of people you meet, but none of them seem to work for me. I guess I’ll just have to put up with being embarrassed. Hopefully I can at least keep from getting into as bad a situation as the character in the comic. LOL