What happens when you Google my name

The latest updates to my game still aren’t visual (eg. systems-level stuff) so for this month’s blog post I’m just gonna tell you about an amusing thing I was reminded of recently. If you search Google for my name, you see my photo with a death date of 1937:

(Technically you gotta search “joseph hocking”, but searching “joe hocking” will suggest the full name anyway.)

My sister noticed this years ago, and after we had a laugh I forgot about it. Well, recently someone was talking about the results when they google their name, and that conversation reminded me about this. I wasn’t sure if it still works after all these years, but it does! The other person joked “omg I’m so sorry to hear you died in 1937.”

The explanation here is fairly simple, and also a good object lesson in why you should be cautious of “facts” you read on the Internet. There was an author around a hundred years ago with the same name as me, and I’ve also written a book, so Google has us conflated into a single author bio. It shows my photo over his biographical details, plus it lists all our books. These books came out over a century apart, so pretty impressive to be written by one person!

Who knows if Google’s algorithms will eventually update to fix this error, but I hope they don’t. If nothing else, this gives me something amusing to tell people about at parties 😀

Hopefully next month I can go back to talking about my game. I gotta change the textures or something, so that I’ll have screenshots to show…


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