C. Warren Axelrod

Will the Real Sam DeKay Stand Up?

Sam’s November 13, 2008 post had the title: “What is Russell Handorf’s Secret?” I also verified that Sam had written that one in subsequent face-to-face discussions. In that column, Sam describes how he had been stymied in his search for Russ’s personal information, only to discover it was because he had misspelled Russ’s name in his inquiry.

But, even if he had spelled the name correctly, can he be sure that it is the same person? I did a quick search on the Web and soon found another Sam Dekay, only the name belonged to a Samantha Dekay from South Dakota!

I’m reminded of the TV game show “To Tell the Truth.” As you know, the objective of the game is to guess who, from among three candidates, is really that person, where only the genuine person must tell the truth, and the other two lie. After the guesses are made, the “real” person is asked to reveal him or herself by standing up.

Authentication in the virtual world is more complex. Google (or Bing) on your or another’s name and, depending upon whether or not you or the other person share a name with a famous person, your search will be swamped with references to the better-known person (in Web terms). Even if you try to narrow the search by adding some descriptors, the results can still be very unsatisfactory.

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