When Microsoft’s new Windows Live search went, well, live recently, i decided to try it out just to see how its results differ from the Big Search Gorilla. The tried and true way to do this is, of course, to egosurf and google yourself.

But first, a brief history. Over the years, the Boisen name has not exactly been a household word. Other than an obscure horticulturalist who couldn’t get his new berry to thrive and spelled his name funny, there just aren’t that many Boisens out there. (Happily, John Knott was able to rescue his work, and wound up with a successful amusement park as a reward) Growing up, i only heard of a few others Boisens who weren’t relatives, and it wasn’t until our daughter Claire went to college that i actually met a non-related Boisen in person, another girl in her freshman class (one of those statistical anomalies that seem like they should never happen but actually happen all the time). By the time i was Net-savvy enough to want boisen.com, though, i discovered some namesake had gotten there first: wouldn’t you know it!

I’ve been on the web for a while now, presented a few papers and such, and of course have this blog thingy, so i’ve got my small share of Google’s index (though my Googlemass is still exceeded by my brother the big shot musician, who is so cool he even has a Myspace page). “Boisen” being of Scandinavian origin (our branch of the family came through the Schleswig-Holstein area of Germany), and “Sean” being from Ireland (a place my mother loves), i’ve always assumed the chances of finding somebody who shared both my first and last names were close to zero. Imagine my surprise, then, when live.com returned another Sean Boisen!

Unfortunately, i can’t quite figure out who my web namesake is, since all the information about him appears to be in Danish. A colleague tried an online Danish-to-English translator — a rather rare service itself — and we guessed from the resulting word salad that he manages real estate (i’d really be in trouble if he were a computer scientist!). So at least our resulting web presences aren’t likely to overlap much. Just checking today, he’s lately wrangled his way into the first 30 Google results for our name: he didn’t used to be there at all. And he’s #4 in the results on live.com: harrumph!

This all became even more interesting when i looked at the site howmanyofme.com. An initial slashdotting brought it down, but it’s back up now, and you can look up how many other people in the US share your first and last names. The funny part is when i look up myself:

Logo There are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

I knew my name was rare, but i never realized it was so rare that i don’t even exist!