The strange twilight world of the internet

About a year ago, I googled myself. Apparently it’s the first sign of narcissism, but I was bored and I’d exhausted every site on the web (it felt that way anyway). I found some interesting results. There are a handful of other Neil Schillers in the world, including a professor in the US, a lawyer, a political activist in Australia, and a fictional character. Yes, a fictional character. I exist, apparently, in a novel called World Enough and Time. This is the synposis:

“For Neil Schiller, it is a moment that will forever be etched in his memory–that first tantalizing glimpse of Donna Siegel at a high school dance. Neil is so taken with the chestnut-haired beauty that he is able to overcome his gawky adolescent shyness to win over the first girl he ever wanted.

Despite their very different natures, they are drawn to each other with the irresistible sweetness and aching tenderness of first love. As they both embark on the challenge of leaving the comfort of their Long Island community to separately begin their college educations, they make an ardent commitment to one another. And, for a while, they manage to nurture their promise–but time, distance and new experiences stretch the bond that ties them to the breaking point.

Years later they meet again in New York City. Donna is now a young society matron with a glamorous career, and Neil is a neurology resident at a Manhattan hospital. They renew their friendship when Donna turns to Neil, instead of her husband, for support in confronting the ultimate test of courage. Even though she betrayed Neil in the past, he is her most steadfast and beloved friend.

In this sensitive and insightful portrait of a relationship, Allan L. Rothman has created unforgettable characters that compel us to wonder about the paths not taken in our own lives.”

I think it’s a gritty crime novel… Wow. Betrayal, enduring friendship, lost loves, neuro surgery. It’s like he had a camera trained on my life… and then wrote the opposite. The paths he goes down are certainly not the ones taken in my own life, he’s bang on there 😀

A year ago, this entry was on page one of results for Neil Schiller. I was listed twice – once by virtue of being a post-grad student at Liverpool Hope University, and once because I had contributed to an online archive of work on Richard Brautigan. Direct match entries petered out around halfway down page two. I just reran the search this morning. The first six pages of entries are mostly now me. The guys in the US and Australia still feature a bit, the fictional Neil Schiller is down to page nine. This time the results are interesting in a different way:

1. Oblivious is up for sale in Japan

2. Oblivious is for sale via a bookseller on the Australian Ebay.

3. My blog entry on typos is on someone else’s site and introduced in a Cantonese character set (!!!?!?)

How bizarre. Of course, none of this really helps in terms of publicity – these sites only show if you search for Neil Schiller. The problem I have is getting people to discover Neil Schiller whilst searching for something else. An SEO strategy it certainly ain’t. But the thing that strikes me is that I’ve heard a lot about proliferation of data across the internet and have never really seen it happen beyond deliberate attempts to make things viral. Without trying, though, my name, and some of the words I’ve thrown about, seem to have found their way into some strange little corners.

I have this Pulp Idol thing tomorrow and I got a list of competitors from the organiser. I thought I’d check them out to see who I was up against. Out of nine other people in my heat, I found (I think) four of them. Not a lot of info around on most, although one is a Merseyside crime writer who is doing something on local radio this week. I wonder if they’ll have anything like the same problem finding me? I suspect the problem will more likely be in working out if I live in Japan, Australia or Beijing…

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2 thoughts on “The strange twilight world of the internet

  1. James Everington May 4, 2011 / 2:52 pm

    No 3. has just made me laugh and then choke on my coffee in front of everyone in my office.

  2. Neil Schiller May 4, 2011 / 3:02 pm

    Yeah, that’s a very strange one. Why on earth they selected that post in particular which talks about 9 missplaced full stops in my text, and why they thought that was of any relevance to anything at all, is a bit beyond me. Maybe I have this huge, unknown fanbase in China and there’s been some hot topic forum debate over there as to whether the full stops were placed ironically and whether they represent genius or idiocy…

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