Self Search Portrait
Currently a reserved user of social media and contributor to public web forums, I'm always curious to see what turns up in a Google image search of my name. It's always changing, and it the results usually have nothing to do with me. Individual clicks on images reveal that each picture is accompanied with descriptive text (visible upon inspection in the Developer Tools) that often contains (but not always) both my first and last name or one or the other. Sometimes my name appears somewhere on the page linked to the photo. By replacing the image results with the associated text and displaying it all at once, I hope to better understand how the Google algorithm "sees" at this moment in time. And right now, it sees some of my LinkedIn activity, at least two other people with the same name, my father, my grandfather, and few others who share either my first or last name. Of note, I've never been on a dairy farm tour, but among the commenters in the linked article I found an "Ellen" and a "Nickles"--why such a top return for matching information that is buried relatively much deeper? I also noticed the mention of Ellen Sabin and her book, The Nickels, Dime, and Dollars Book. My last name is spelled "les" not "els". Folks commonly make this mistake, and I'm used to it. But c'mon Google, I had higher expectations for you!
Baby Donut Heads
Last year I noticed a couple of funny photos in the Yelp reviews of dessert restaurants. At first I thought they were accidental: a sweet treat photographed in front a blurred out child such that the two combined into hybrid creature. (Picture a baby with an ice cream cone for a body.) As I started this exercise I discovered that I am not the only one with this observation. It appears to be recent trend, with images of the sort only appearing in the first pages of Yelp galleries and once you notice them, you can't not see them. Here I've gathered a bunch together for a chain of local donut shops. I love how this public sharing site has become a playground for silly adults to play with their food and their unassuming children. On a broader level it speaks to questions of how behavior and content organically replicates itself across the internet.
[WARNING] The following screenshots contain language that some may find offensive.
Looking for material I started perusing craigslist and stumbled into the seeking strictly platonic relationships of the personals' section. Let's just say that this category is considered a loose suggestion for participants, and after curating a selection to show the range, I paired listings with with quotes about friends and friendship from a self-help site to amplify this disconnect. But there are also displays of extreme vulnerability. Folks are clearly looking for connections but under a veil of anonymity. I'm struck by the paradox of revealing a profound human need all the while under the protection of a cloaked identity.