Your own private Google

I call it the Google Effect -- the mishmash that occurs when folks search for you on the Web and find other people who share your name but none of your charming personal traits. Sometimes this is an improvement, but it can also have a disastrous effect on your reputation.

Now I hardly do any ego surfing -- not more than two hours a day, tops. But on those rare occasions, I do find some weird mashups of information that make no sense to anything but a brainless bot-driven search engine. (Like some people seem to think there's more than one Robert X. Cringely out there. Can you believe that?)

If, for example, there's an axe murderer or an "American Idol" contestant with your exact same name, a search engine really can't tell the difference between you and them. But now that , that may change.

What, you mean you don't have a Google Profile? Well, , before that axe murdering/American Idoler beats you to it.

Just be prepared: Google Profiles is damned nosy. It wants to know your name, nicknames, profession, employers, colleagues, and as much biographical information as you can dredge up. It wants your photographs and all of your related Web sites, blogs, social media profiles, etc. It will automatically create a Google Map showing your "places" and, if you so choose, share your contact info with the world.

And though you're obviously not obligated to fill out all the fields or even tell the truth, you have strong incentives to do so -- i.e., to distinguish yourself from the less talented hacks (literal or otherwise) who share your name.