August 20, 2008

Googling the Town

As published in The Erin Advocate

Have you ever Googled the place where you live?

Like searching out your own name on the Internet, checking the hits on Erin can lead to some interesting, but time-consuming tangents.

The Google search engine produces 54.9 million references to Erin, but if you narrow it down to “Town of Erin”, the total is a mere 10,100.

You could inadvertently learn all about Erin Mills, or Erin Brockovich, or the many companies that use Erin in their corporate name.

Are you curious about Erin, New York, located east of Elmira in Chemung County near the Pennsylvania border? How about Erin, Nigeria, south of Abeokuta?

Wikipedia, the popular on-line encyclopedia, lets us know that the word Erin is derived from √Čirinn, a form of the Irish word for Ireland, and that it originated with the Gaelic name Eireann.

Wikipedia also has a very brief article (a “geography stub”) on our Erin. In addition to some basic facts, it says, “The town’s new industrial park is attracting a number of new industries, due to its cheaper tax rate, accessibility to transportation, and its location within the ‘Technology Triangle’, a series of high-tech driven cities including nearby Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge.”

Fascinating stuff. The Town, or anyone for that matter, is welcome to edit or add to the Wikipedia article. Fortunately, it has a link to www.erin.ca, an excellent source for local information.

The Town of Erin website is a treasure trunk of interesting stuff. Of course there are the municipal things, like agendas, minutes and permits. But you will also find an excellent photo gallery, lots of local history articles, details on coming events, and directories of businesses and community groups. It is an attractive marketing tool that will be seen by people thinking of buying a home or setting up a business here.

It also links to many other sites of local interest, such as: Credit Valley Conservation, Wellington County and Health Unit, erincinema, Hills of Headwaters and the Agricultural Society.

I got caught up in this web of Erin links while researching another burning issue – what to name this newspaper column. When naming something these days, it is wise to go on-line to see who else is using the name. Many thanks to the readers who gave the matter some thought, after I requested help two weeks ago.

John Sutherland phoned to suggest Erin Gleanings, since I tend to gather up things that have not made it into the regular news.

Jane Vandervliet suggested Teetering on my Soapbox. “Reflects need for firmer stance,” she said. “After all an ‘opinion’ column requires the writer to actually have one.” Ouch.

“Don’t be afraid of ticking people off. Persuasive writing is all about challenging others to think with the goal of change for the better for all.”

No offence taken, Jane. It is true that I tend to cautious, trying to see various sides of an issue. Also, my intent is a mix of news, trivia and opinion. Maybe I will take a few more risks when the time is right.

Hill Cox emailed a series of ideas, including: Shades of Green, The Spirit of Erin, Phil’s Focus, Erin’s Advocate, Village Views and Erin Perspective.

I liked Shades of Green, since it is a bit Irish (like me), and a bit environmental (all the rage these days). Google has almost 1.5 million references to “Shades of Green”. I would be sharing the name with a hosta nursery in Aylmer, Ontario; a forest website; an environment series on CBC; a housing estate on Vancouver Island, various landscaping firms and an Armed Forces Recreation Centre at Walt Disney World in Florida. Ultimately, it was too ambiguous.

Heidi Duncan (who named her business Heidi Hoe) dropped off a list that includes: Soapbox Stories, A Wee Tale to Tell, Much Ado About Nothing, Erin’s Hullaballo, Shamrock Stories and – meant with good intentions I’m told – The Phillage Idiot. I am feeling inspired. Less need for self-deprecation when readers are willing to help.

Anyhow, it is thumbs down on all the above. My favourite is Erin Insight, suggested by Hill Cox. The term doesn’t turn up in Google, except for a couple of references to insightful people named Erin. Not as racy as some, but it is likely to stand up better over time.

Of course, the column name does not refer just to “insights” of mine, but to those of people I interview or who send me their views. I have avoided putting my own email address in the column, but I will soon set up a new one for dialogue on column topics.

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