Again, today, a complete stranger contacted me asking for permission to use the family portrait I've posted on my website. The first time, it was an email from some (alleged) preacher, wondering if he could use our picture in his church's promotional materials. I didn't even respond. It sort of creeped me out that he'd try to lure parishioners with our smiling faces? What if he commits doctrinal error and his followers go to Hell. I don't need that on my record.
Today's call came (allegedly) from Sue, a props manager on the set of a G-rated movie currently under production. She sounded legit, and we had a pleasant chat. Sue was looking for a photo illustrating the family background of one of the movie's characters, an aged doctor, and she thought that ours would work very nicely. I demurred, citing copyright difficulties.
After I hung up, I wondered, "There must be millions of family photos on the Internet. How do these people find ours?" I immediately thought, "It must be Google." Sure enough, if you run a search for "family portrait" on Google Images, our photo pops up almost at the top of the page. Think that's freaky? Hold onto that thought.
I understand that Google's text-based search engine ranks each page, in part, based on how many other pages link to the ranked page. I'm not sure that Google's image-based search engine works the same way, but my tentative research indicated that not very many other pages link to our family photo. In the course of discovering some strange things like this, however, I stumbled across the truly freaky result: Run a search simply for "family" on Google images and our family photo comes out numero uno, head of the pack, top of the heap. First.
My iconic family, paradigmatic example of the institution! I'm so proud. But I'm not quite sure how a pater familias ought properly to celebrate this sort of high-tech achievement.
Here's an idea: I could order a matching set of t-shirts for the whole family, sized "toddler" to "extra large." On the front of each of t-shirt, I'd have a screenshot of the Google results printed. The back of each would say, "Kiss my ass, Ward Cleaver!" in a big font.
We could put our family t-shirts on, link arms, and march down San Clemente's main drag. Maybe we could do that two-step from the Wizard of Oz, too. Wouldn't that be cute?