Manatee synesthesia

The story behind Collision Detection

MIT’s Knight Science Journalism program has just published an interview with me in which I discuss Collision Detection — including why I started it. As is probably obvious, I started blogging partly as a way to think out loud, and to write about things that are too weird, quirky, or timely to fit into long-form magazine journalism.

But in the interview, I also discuss the subtler reason I started the blog: As a Google hack. I was tired of my doppleganger Clive Thompson — the billionaire CEO of Rentokil in the UK (or, as Martha Henry, the acting director of the MIT program who interviewed me, refers to him, “the toilet guy”). The interview’s online here, and this is an excerpt:

Me: I wanted to establish myself as easy to find on Google … I started the blog because when you’re a freelancer, you don’t belong to an organization. It’s very hard to find you. So I needed to establish an unshakeable presence.

Google is the determiner of reality on-line and I know the way Google works. Blogs attract a lot of links; other bloggers link to you. You very quickly build up a huge amount of what’s called “Google Juice.” And sure enough, three months after I started the blog, with barely a couple dozen links pointing to me, I was already on the first page. Within a year, I was number one. Basically, I’m undislodgeable at this point in time.

MH: So you’ve obliterated the toilet guy.

CT: I’ve obliterated every other Clive Thompson.

You will respect mah authoritay.

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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Collision Detection: A Blog by Clive Thompson