This was so embarrassing that I’ve written drafts of this little vignette then deleted them later twice now, but at the same time it’s really funny and I can’t resist sharing it.
We added a new feature to our site a few months ago, taking advantage of Google’s increased support of microformats/data, which they call rich snippets. It’s a way to teach the google search engine small facts about your web content so people get more context about the search results they get. We were applying this to a number of things on our site, but the thing we knew most of the users would appreciate was the fact that if someone searched for them by name, in the search results Google would always show their title and contact info.
Right after we enabled it on our site, I was in a meeting with 10-12 folks, and mentioned we had done this and offered to demonstrate when my description wasn’t clear enough for them.
I should mention that a) I should have known better, and tested the demo before showing it to folks, and b) my name is common and I share it with several notable people, including a photographer.
So I google ‘David Hamilton,’ and what comes up as the first result is the photographer, who specializes in nudes. Adjacent to this as the first result are a bunch of thumbnail photos of prepubescent female nudes.
I have never closed a browser tab faster, but man did I initially stammer my way through the explanation of what everyone had just seen. What’s worst about this is I have known for more than 10 years about this guy. He’s famous, he’s always the first result on my name, and I knew Google had started showing relevant content adjacent to search results. Somehow, despite knowing all this, I did my own name instead of, say, one of our faculty.
Fortunately I knew everyone in the room, some very well, and I had enough credibility with the crowd that my truthful explanation was accepted with good humor, but I cannot recall a moment at work where I’ve been so thoroughly embarrassed. Best remark from the room, and probably the biggest contributing factor to my becoming flustered, was a muttered ‘how is that even legal?!?’ from one of my colleagues.
The moral of this story: don’t google for me – you won’t find me, and the chances of you having an appreciation for what you do find are really low 😉
(this story brings to mind an episode with a girlfriend from some years ago which was just as embarrassing, also featured prurient content, but did not feature public humiliation. Still a good laugh so I’ll write that one up soon).
3 thoughts on “Embarrassing Google story to the max”
Closely related arcana: When my name went on the masthead at Newsday way, way back in the wayback machine (mid-70s) I said it should be “David C. Hamilton” and they put some vinegar into saying back, “too formal.” So I dared them to g’head and see how many letters rock-ribbed LI prudes could generate in a week. I always wondered (A) how come no other “journalist” in the ranks had ID’d the photographer (whose already notorious work was very good, to my eye, although creepy); and subsequently (B) why MY name never became the #1 Google hit. It’s still a mystery.
Ha, that’s a riot! 🙂