Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fun with The Google

Okay. So, I know that it's hilariously egotistical to Google myself. (It's like asking the internet to validate your existence, isn't it?) But I also know that I'm not the only one.

Anyway, I Googled my name earlier today, which is something I do, I dunno, about once a month. The first few results have been the same for years - this blog, my LinkedIn page, my Twitter account, my Rate MyProfessors reviews, my page - but something new seems to pop up every time, and it's usually good. Or, at least, kinda cool. ("Cool" might be relative.  It might just be inconsequential and/or nerdy.) Here are some of the more interesting results:

1. A couple of my essays been referenced in some books. Only one really engages with an argument that I've made: Marc Singer's Grant Morrison: Combining the Worlds of Contemporary Comics. I'm quoted/referenced a bunch of times in the chapter about Grant Morrison's New X-Men. One of my interpretations of a group of villains called the U-Men is referred to as "appallingly literal." (He actually likes the interpretation - though Singer offers a convincing read of his own, and one that I think he and I would find equally appalling - but I thought it would be funnier if I pulled that quote out of context.)

2.  My stuff pops up in some recently defended theses. (The first of those theses includes a reference to my queer-reading of the "gay" sidekick concept. I'm mentioning it because I think it's super-cool and should be referenced more. All the time, even. By you. In whatever you're doing at this exact moment.)

3. My "gay" sidekick paper is required reading in a "Masculinity in American Popular Culture" course at the University of Nevada, Reno. That's pretty cool.

4. I also found a single peer-reviewed essay that references me, again, in a footnote. Which isn't all that surprising, given how notoriously slow the peer-review process can be. (What is surprising, though, is that it misrepresents my X-Men paper, oddly reducing it to an essay about mutants-as-racial-metaphor. Huh.)

5. Google Image Search is pretty boring. There are a bunch of pictures of me - almost all of them pictures that I photoshopped specifically for my social media accounts - and the things I've posted. The weirdest it gets is when the X-Men Micro Heroes that I designed waaay back (10 years ago? 15?) pop up.

6. My Klout score is currently 54. Which is absurdly high, when I look at some of the people that are also in the mid-50s. (It rose more than 10 points in one day, in the last week, probably owing to how many retweets I'm getting for all the Rob Ford crack smoking shenanigans.)

7. A bunch of small things: my letter to the former chair of the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission), another to Roger Ebert, one to the Toronto Star, and a reference on Wikipedia to a comic book review that I wrote. The lattermost actually prompted a discussion on the Talk page of the entry, long since closed, of whether I was an "expert" on the subject or just a fan. It was decided that, yes, I'm an expert. (And, yes, I've totally used the line 'Wikipedia says I'm an expert on comics'. And, no, I'm not being entirely ironic when I do so.)

The funniest of this grab-bag of responses to stuff that I wrote is from Fire Joe Morgan, a delightful but defunct website whose mission was to embarrass sports writers and commentators who rely on clich├ęs and myths for their analysis. I wrote a letter to a sports writer at The Toronto Star, who printed it and mocked my use of statistics. FJM took offense, complimented me for my reasoning, and chewed-out the sports writer. The money quote: "Neil probably got a 5 on his AP Physics exam. Then he majored in electrical engineering at McGill, married a nice French-Canadian girl named Ghyslaine, and settled down in Toronto." The weird thing? I was doing a PhD in Social and Political Thought when this column was written; five years later, I'm teaching, among other things, in an Electrical Engineering course at U of T. Huh.

8. A link to my sports blog, which I both opened and shut down last year. It was supposed to be a collective thing, but the other guys who hoped to be involved could never find the time.

9. An email interview with Bryan Lee O'Malley of Scott Pilgrim fame, way back in 2004 when the series was still brand new. He was oddly unpleasant - refused to answer a couple questions without explanation, used an unmistakably snarky tone. Very strange experience.

10. I've been re-tweeted by a few media sources, like Toronto's The Grid, Metro, and the Huffington Post. All of them only came to my attention because someone else saw them and directed me to them, so, for all I know, there could be more out there.

11. Further down the list of Google results is something that I'd never seen before, which is a summary of my X-Men paper in an English grad student's annotated bibliography of X-Men criticism. It's actually a really long, detailed summary, noting that my argument is very atypical but that the "thorough article is supported by an equally thorough bibliography". Keen!

12. One of a few discussions of All-Star Superman where my blog about Lex Luthor and Leo Quintum (ie. they are the same person) is referenced. I'm guessing that they're hard to find because discussion forums don't follow any kind of consistent reference/citation format. Funny story: A friend of mine was teaching this book in an English class at the University of Toronto, and a student told him that he had to check out the authoritative take on the series. Which was, bizarrely, my blog.

13. This is just weird. Waaay down in the search results - we're talking triple-digits - is my old ICQ account, which I'm sure I haven't used since the year 2000. ICQ still exists??

14. What I don't find is interesting, too. There used to be a critique of a comic book review that I wrote, like, 8 years ago - in fact, it was one of the top search results, at least for a little while. I thought it was an unfair critique - I was characterized as a mindless superhero fan - and wrote a response to it, which was never responded to. But that doesn't seem to exist, anymore. Disappointingly, I can't find any record of my old Geocities websites, and I had a whole lot of them in the mid-to-late 90s. They were hideous, but so was the entire internet.

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