Saturday, December 11, 2010

Vanity searching, ego surfing ...

No matter what it's called, vanity searching, ego surfing, or Googling yourself - "A rose by any other name" - I never really considered the act a guilty or narcissistic pleasure as described in the opening paragraphs of the Time's article Why Google Wants You to Google Yourself. Within closing remarks and announcements at the end of my technology course, I remind students everything they created and presented online now belongs to them; projects may be marked private, edited and revised to suit their ongoing needs, or simply deleted. Regardless of their decision I advocate performing a vanity search, they should carefully evaluate the results and determine if their growing online persona is appropriate for a potential employer to view.

Generally speaking, I follow the advice and perform the same search on myself using Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Ice Rocket utilizing various forms of my name (quotes, no quotes, middle initial, etc.). After the initial wonder finding blog comments, ALAO board meeting minutes, a email posting from grad school years ago, and more recently uFollow, I've not found anything unusual or needing my attention. That is, until last week. Search results yielded links to several very dated (six years ago) technology handouts and tutorials I developed had been uploaded from my personal university web site to a course material sharing web site.

I like to share; all of my instructional videos on YouTube are public and I've never denied a request for using one of my LibGuides, but finding these resources posted without permission was irksome. I searched the site for project guidelines, privacy notices, and contact information to request removal of items uploaded without permission. I sent an email request, complete with specific links and document titles, on Tuesday. I had an answer the next day complete with digital copyright statements showing they had complied with the law and a requirement I state - categorically - my ownership of said documents. I found it ironic they could post what did not belong to them, yet I had to 'prove' they were mine to have them removed. Official notice the four documents had been removed arrived via email late Thursday. Yesterday I tested the links and they were indeed no longer active. I also found three more items (update: they have been removed).

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