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Thursday, December 16, 2004


Come on an Ego Surfari with Me!

Bethany Surf
Ego surfing. What a wonderful expression!

You know what I mean - we've all done it - put your name into Google and see what comes up.

So let's get right down to brass tacks and see ego surfing in action. I'm now typing ["Steve Rosenbach"] into Google's home page.

Click-WHAM! And here are "Results 1 - 10 of about 1,310 for "steve rosenbach" (0.23 seconds)" according to the message near the top right edge of the screen.

Ok, let's see what we've got here: Yeah, about what I'd expect. The first result is for this very blog, in fact for a post from just eleven days ago. Then there's a link to my portfolio on Usefilm.com and another one to my "fine art photography" website.

Then there's a link to Geoff Snowman's blog (Geoff is our local Microsoft Technology Evangelist and a great supporter of my user group, MAVBUG.)

Ah! Here we go - next comes a hit for something I posted on the Beststuff "russiancamera-user" forum, better known as the Commie Camera Group.

But hey, what's this? The last item on the first page, with the heading, "Wildlands Results," doesn't look familiar at all. I click on the link, and it looks like the results of a mountain bike rally in Bernville, PA. Yes, there's my name, but I'm about as athletic as a garden slug. Oh, maybe it's my cousin, Steven Harry Rosenbach? Yeah, that must be it. Hey, Cuz, give me a yell!

Now I click to go to the next page (I guess with ten results on a page, there are 131 of 'em?) and start to see some funny stuff. Besides some more current items, here's a link to a list of Microsoft Access users groups that must be seven or eight years old. It lists my old phone number at Baltimore Gas & Electric as well as a incorrectly-spelled bge.com email address. And there's a comment I made to Andrew Tobias' website in '98 - for some reason, Andrew credited it to "Dr. Steve Rosenbach."

And so it goes... blog posts, my comments to other photographers and bloggers, MS Access, Visual Basic, and SQL Server questions and answers.

But on page six, I come to the end of the Internet, as it were, for "steve rosenbach". The Google explanation right after the last result is
In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 52 already displayed.
If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.
No thanks, I'll pass on that one.

Now what happens if I ego surf on my "official name," Stephen Rosenbach (no middle name, my parents couldn't afford one when I was born.)

This time, Google proclaims only 357 hits, and runs out of steam on page 4. The links are older (I've become less formal in my old age) and I find stuff like a review I wrote for an Access 97 book that somehow ended up on a bookseller's website in the UK. You never know where stuff goes on the web.

How about just "Rosenbach?" Wow - 142,000 hits! What's all this Rosenbach action on the Internet?

Page 1 starts with the Rosenbach Museum and Library - the legacy of A.S.W. Rosenbach, a root beer magnate and no kin of mine. Just kidding about the root beer. Actually, Mr. Rosenbach was a wealthy Philadephian whose family came over from Germany in the 1800's - practically Mayflower people compared to us just-off-the-boat Rosenbachs. The museum and library houses an extensive collection of rare books and manuscripts. Not that I've ever seen it.

There are links to Museo Rosenbach, an Italian rock band, and Ulrike Rosenbach, a German artist, as well as www.rosenbach.com, formerly the site of a metal fabrication company in Germany, but which now sits forlornly vacant and for sale (nein, danke!). And, what do you know ... at the bottom of page 1 is a link to this very blog.

Page 2 yields a many more links to the Famous Philadephia Rosenbach, link to "Rosenbach Web", which is Japanese (don't ask! - I have no idea,) Rosenbach used pianos, and Der Verwaltungsverband Rosenbach, which if my half-Yiddish, half-German serves me, means something like "the unified Rosenbach administration" - it must be a consolidated township in Germany.

Page 3 has a link about Rosenbach's disease - now there's an honor I could do without; a page with some statistics on NFL-er Timm Rosenbach that includes this accolade: Timm Rosenbach is not in the all-time top 50 in any major category; and much, much more on our Philadephia friend.

This search goes on for eighty pages, and I can tell you there's not much egotistically satisfying for me in all those thousands of hits. I did get a bit of a vicarious thrill to see some links fly by that referred to my cousin Margo (Margo L. Rosenbach, PhD,) but that was about it.

Now, ego surfing for one's name is all well and good, but what about gaging one's contribution to the Corpus of Human Knowledge? Let's try a different form of ego surfing. I'll type in a search relating to something I've written about and see what shows up. Putting any reference to my name or website here would be cheating, so we'll have none of that.

So I'll see how I stack up against the rest of the world on some important academic topic that I've written about in this venue... say... Jews and Chinese food. In goes the search term [Jews "Chinese food"]. And click-KERBLAM! just like that Google serves up 12,900 hits. Ok, I'm not on the first page. We'll I didn't expect that. Not on the second... the fifth... the fiftieth.

To my dismay, a carpel-tunnel-inducing seventy-six clicks later, I finally came across my landmark blog post on Jews and Chinese food.

So much for ego surfing!

Credit Where Credit is Due?

I just ran across this wonderful expression, "ego surfing," about two weeks ago, but I can't remember where. If you are the originator of this term, please write to me so that I can give the you credit you so richly deserve!

It's a term that's been around for a while...at least four or five years, but I'm a bad judge of time as college doesn't seem 11 years ago and it SURELY can't be time for my 15th class reunion;)! Ego surfing for myself isn't especially gratifying, but I DO like surfing for bits from my past...always more interesting...
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