Wednesday Night Lights: Taken Advantage Of
Last night, my wife turned to me and said, "Do you think we would be able to find Andy [last name redacted] online somwhere?" Now Andy has a pretty common last name, so searching for him was going to be a challenge. But hey, a reference question at home, and a challenging one at that? Awesome!
"You know, does the library have some sort of database that you could look at that a regular search engine wouldn't be able to see?" she continued. My wife's one smart cookie. She taught high school English for a long time, she has a Master's degree in English Education, and she currently teaches undergraduate and Master's level college courses, so she knows about searching online.
She also knows how to hit all the right spots to pique my little librarian brain. We went to college with Andy. He was in our wedding. We knew essentially the field of work he was in, but weren't sure he was still in the Midwest or not. Using Google was not going to be an option as his common last name would result in too many hits. Plus, who knows what sort of online presence this guy has?
You search for me "John Klima" and you get me or an artist in Brooklyn (we 'met' online and had a laugh about wondering who the other John Klima was that was messing up our Google hits). And you still get 25,700 hits on my name in quotes (almost 2 million without).*
So I tried Reference USA first. The numbers weren't bad: using Andrew, 146 in the US and 21 in WI; using Andy, 49 in the US and 7 in WI. That wasn't a terrible amount; you could certainly check all of those. But you'd have to call them to get any information. And what if he has an unlisted number?
I moved over to Facebook since I've found some old high school buddies there, but no luck. My wife said that she didn't see Andy as a Facebook kind of guy, but considering the World Wide Web was in its infancy the last time we saw him, who knew what he would be into?
Then it hit me, while Andy wasn't the kind of guy to use Facebook, he was totally the type of guy to use LinkedIn. I logged into LinkedIn and searched. There he was. We sent a request to join my network, and he responded almost immediately. I then saw that one of the people in his network was another college friend we'd fallen out of touch with, so I sent him a message, too.
After I got done, I looked at my wife and said, "You asked me this tonight because you knew I would just take over and find him."
She smiled and said, "Yep. I knew if I asked you wouldn't be able to stand it until you found him."
I feel so used. And yet, it seems strangely fulfilling.
* I never tried Google last night, but I tried tonight. I put Andy's name in quotes and added 'WI.' The first result is actually how I found him, but through a more circuitous route last night.
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