Dylan Jones: Google Alert allows you the opportunity to live parallel lives, a different one for every hour of the day

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The Independent Online

Don't get jealous now, but I'm number one all over Europe. In certain parts of the Middle East, too. And the US, obviously. Oh yes. That's right, little old me. Pop star.

Not only that, but I've also just graduated with honours from the only decent university in Baltimore (come on, you know the one!), won the only North American skateboarding competition worth winning and – get this! – Professor Dylan Jones-Evans (which I've been told is actually my real name, along with Dylan Quinn, Dylan Brown and about three dozen others) has become the Director of Research and Innovation at the University of Wales ... This stuff just goes on for ever.

The salient point here is that two weeks ago I was introduced to Google Alert (by a friend who couldn't quite believe I didn't know what it was), and since punching it into my Mac, I've been inundated with a variety of bizarre emails suggesting that I regularly play basketball in Arkansas, continue to teach pure maths in Buenos Aires, and, as I intimated, that my new album is number one all over the world!

A dozen times a day I get extremely formal emails telling me that a mountaineer with the same christian name is making a misguided assault on Everest, a linebacker called Dylan Davis is up for some sort of "alt" college award, and someone with exactly the same name as me last week published an article in The Independent. Not that I'm complaining – it's always nice for people to name-check you, even if they confuse you with someone else entirely. Even if they confuse you with, say, Dylan Moran – a man who, the last time I looked, wasn't funny at all.

Which I think is essentially why Google Alert exists. It allows you to enter worlds that previously you had nothing to do with, allows you briefly to imagine what life might have been like if you had been born in Idaho, or Bruges. It allows us all the opportunity to live parallel lives, a different one for every hour of the day.

In fact, I would have thought there is some mileage in a social-networking "app" that allows you to lifestyle-swap with your namesakes. Jonathan Ive is probably working on it as we speak.

Dylan Jones is editor of 'GQ'

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