Your online footprints

Do you ever perform a google search for your own name on the internet? If you do, you may be surprised to find that you are leaving more footprints behind than you might think.

I sometimes do it just to see what other people would find should they try to learn about me. In my case my first name is not very unique, neither is my surname, but the combination of the two is pretty much returning only results related to me. 

That way I once found that I have co-authored 4 publications, which were derived from my MSc dissertation by my then supervisors. The first two I was aware of, as they had sent it to me by email at the time, back in 1997, when I was still in my first job and they were subsequently published in 1998. But the more recent versions of it in 2004, I found out through google. It seems that it is still a hot topic in the Artificial Intelligent negotiating agent research.

More recently, my portfolio of a course I took at the NIE and that I had posted on my personal website also came up in the search results, and so did my LinkedIn Profile amongst others. Other websites like Naymz and Pipl are also gathering info about persons and if you search for a first and a last name, even a city, country, it returns a list of websites, including social networking sites that you may have signed up with.

I was surprised that even my MySpace account came up, where I am using a nickname to hide my identity and I don’t actively use it, just to link to some music that I’m interested in only.

My Facebook account is also interesting, my profile is only visible to people that are in my contact list, and a limited version of it to networks I belong too. However, it did show some of my friends, as well as book and movie reviews that I had done in the search results on google. So, the identity protection is not as water-tight. Not that I am doing anything on FB that should worry me should others see it.

Some of my wordpress blog entries popped up too and my name also popped up at the digital movement site as one of the attendants to a networking gathering that I participated in.

And the website of the dive school in Thailand I did my Advanced Open Water with in Scuba diving, as they list all their “graduates” by calendar month on their website. And an art exhibit that I participated in back in 2002. 

Last but not least my company website came up too in the search results.

Nothing for me to be worried about, but yet another warning that we should be aware of the digital footprints that we are leaving behind online for future employers, or other people interested in finding out more about you!