Firstly, the interest was local. When we brought the Vereeniging back to Rotterdam from the town of Grave in the east of the country where I bought it, the man who helped us wrote an article about my engine and posted it on an internet site about traditional Dutch marine engines. In it, he named my barge and me, so before I even had a blog or any other presence on the net, there I was. The web had me entrapped before I could even do anything about it.
Alas, I can no longer find the page, but here is the engine in question in full swing.
|Industrie single cylinder engine|
It was then some years before I decided to start this blog. However, during this time, my barge was the subject of many a tourist's photo, an artist's painting and a historian's interest. Many of these have somehow found their way onto the internet, and in the case of history articles, my name has been mentioned too as the Vereeniging's owner. What's more, if you look on the photo website, Flickr, and put Oude Haven into its search field, there we will be several photos that include the Vereeniging in them somewhere. Then there are the artists who decorate the quayside, drawing and painting as if no one has ever done this before. Bless them. They post these pictures on the Internet to garner public interest in what they do - hardly surprising, as our harbour is very picturesque.
Here is a water colour painting of the harbour that I happened to come across and is one of many that is floating around our world wide web. See the Vereeniging on the far right. I don't know who painted it, but I really like it.
|Water colour painting - artist not known|
Apart from this, if anyone cares to type my name into Google, they will find several pages of entries about my books and my blog. Since both have been around since 2006, this means any attempt at anonymity is likely to be slightly useless. So what do I do? I'm on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. What chance do I have when my professional and personal life are liberally plastered over the walls of the web?
Well, the answer is not very much. But I think the point is that I have a museum exhibit of a barge, so it's natural that it will be the subject of fairly wide interest. Added to that, I have written two memoirs about my experiences with my Vereeniging, and both of these are available to whoever cares to read them.
|The Vereeniging in 2001|
As regards my private life, well, surprising though it might seem, that is still very private. I rarely say anything about my daily life, my work, my family or my relationships on the Internet, or even in my books. I write about my barge and the life I experience around me. That's it. It's kind of like hiding in plain sight, and for me it works. I sometimes cringe at the number of entries I can find referring to me in the search engines, but for all that, I'd challenge anyone to know what I have actually been doing and where I've been today. I only ever publish what it suits me to do so. The rest remains between me and my family and friends.
It's taken some practice, but I think I've nailed being a public presence in private quite well. My barge has taught me that. So, designers and programmers of Facebook, Google and any other sites out there, do what you will, try as you might - you'll only find out what I choose to tell you!