Thursday, May 12, 2011

President Regan (not Reagan)

Whose name (in firstname lastname form) appeared most often in the pages of Newsweek in the 1970's? Is it---?
  1. Richard Nixon
  2. Gerald Ford
  3. Jimmy Carter
  4. Ken Regan.
The answer could well be... Ken Regan. Ken Regan is a photographer. Many pictures in Newsweek had Photo credit Ken Regan in tiny letters up the side.

I was emailed an invitation to an event titled Ken Regan Presents Bob Dylan, and I wondered if I was emailed this because
  1. I have the largest collection of Bob Dylan satires in the world .
  2. I am friends with Ken Regan who, for all I know, in addition to being a computer scientist, chess player, language expert, blogger, choir singer, and would-be composer and writer, could also be a photographer.
  3. This email went to EVERYONE,
  4. This email was spam (not clear how this differs from the last choice).
I emailed Complexity-Ken who told me (1) there is a photographer Ken Regan, and (2) Complexity-Ken-Regan does not equal Photographer-Ken-Regan. Sharing a name with a photographer seems okay. Its better than sharing a name with a vicious murderer, or worse, a Congressman.

Photographer-Ken has one thing going for him: he registered the domain Thus Complexity-Ken has forever lost the chance to emulate or Still, Complexity-Ken often pushes the domain into second place in Google searches, and simply Google Regan without any firstname at all turns him up on the first page of hits. Why is that? It may be a prerogative of being both a computer scientist and a blogger who tends to make a lot of comments under his real name, with his name (or handle KWRegan) linking back to his site. Perhaps Google regards this as legitimate self-citation, ticking up his page's "authority" score for each one?

Complexity-Ken's wife Debbie Howe is shares a name with the originator of the popular children's book series Bunnicula. However, Complexity-Ken-Wife-Debbie took Complexty-Ken's surname as her middle name and has used the resulting full name in some publications, which Google Deborah Regan Howe finds. More generally, preserving the Google trail has become a factor in wives' keeping their maiden names after marriage. I suspect its a bigger factor than feminism or being-your-own-person or other very good reasons. (I posted on this already here.)


  1. Did I miss the explanation of how the title "President Regan" comes up? Or is that just sleight of hand to attract some Google hits?

  2. Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan

    Nixon, Ford, Carter, Regan

  3. but more importantly, are you going to the show?

  4. In a Heisenberg-style effect, multiple images of this page have pushed several of my wife's publications onto the second page of Google hits for her full professional name. Thanks a lot!! :-)

    This post is also---sometimes---the top Google hit for "Fortnow" by itself, so at least I've taken Lance down with me...

    [The word-verification for this comment was "regam". How weird is that??!]