638 Patrick Coopers

Today’s Sunday Longread email has led me to Julie Beck’s story “All the Other Julie Becks and Me: What a quest for my namesakes taught me about the meaning of names in the internet age,” which in turn led me to a site called HowManyOfMe.com. The site uses 1990 and 2000 Census data to estimate how many people in the United States share your first and last name, something for which I am the target audience. According to these estimates, there are 636,847 first-named Patricks, 325,325 last-named Coopers, and 638 people in the United States named Patrick Cooper.

This is cool. But my wife wins. According to the site, there are 402,903 people with the first name Lori, 8,186 people with the last name Grisham, and only 10 — 10! — people named Lori Grisham.

Meanwhile, Julie Beck’s story gets into who has the top Google ranking, what conversations are like with other Julie Becks, how a name feels to the brain, the desire to be found or not found online, and so on. I love it.

Last but not least, while we’re on the topic, where does Patrick stand in Social Security’s baby-name popularity rankings? Awful. In the 2016 data, Patrick fell to 170th place among boys and secured the name’s worst showing ever, surpassing 1919’s previous record of 166th place.

Patrick Coopers forever

One of my favorite digital writers, Paul Ford, has a recent story in The New Republic about the Social Security death database. Alongside the article comes a searchable visualization of American birth and death data.

As long-time readers of this blog know, I’ve been tracking the sad decline of “Patrick” for years. This new interactive brings no revival on that front. Not only are our births in steep decline but our deaths have largely trended upward.

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But, for once, there’s some good news in the data. While my first name may have its problems, my full name at least has this going for it: it doesn’t die very much. Since 1936, according to the database, only 35 Patrick Coopers have died.

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Compared to other names, and willfully misinterpreting the data, it’s like we live forever. That I’ve corresponded with half a dozen other Patrick Coopers seems stranger now. We are fewer than I thought. Or all will live forever.

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Nothing but trouble for Patrick Cooper in the Gray Lady stacks

I had fun the other day trying the NYT’s Chronicle tool, which visualizes the paper’s use of words over time. At a certain point, my usual fascinating with other people who have my name took over. Apparently, showings of Patrick Coopers have been infrequent in the Gray Lady’s history. When we have appeared, the news hasn’t been good. Or hasn’t been good for long.

The entire history of Patrick Coopers in The New York Times:

February 24, 1864. “SERIOUS MARINE DISASTER: WRECK OF THE STEAMSHIP BOHEMIAN. NINETEEN LIVES LOST.” Steerage passenger Patrick Cooper is among the survivors. But this is pretty awful.

October 14, 1934. “GAS FROM AUTO KILLS JERSEY POSTMASTER.” Patrick Cooper, “a barber who rents part of the garage,” finds the body.

March 23, 1961. “Sir Patrick Ashley Cooper, formerly director of the Bank of England and governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, died at sea yesterday, it was announced here today.”

October 22, 1989. Receiver Patrick Cooper receives a touchdown pass from Andre Ware as the Houston Cougars beat Southern Methodist, 95-21. The game set many records. But wait for it…

December 3, 1989. “Juin Rachele Cooper, a former Max Factor executive, and her husband, Patrick D. Cooper — natives of Jamaica in their 40’s — unveiled a line of 157 items at Saks Fifth Avenue and other stores in 1986. Sales topped $1 million in three months. Patrick Cooper now thinks that Rachele could not have picked a worse moment to begin.”

September 9, 1990. Two more TDs for Patrick Cooper. Wait for it…

August 20, 1991. The pro Houston Oilers waive Patrick Cooper.

April 25 and May 23, 2000. Two “dissidents” try to take seats on the board of Carver Bancorp. A man named Robert (shoutout to my brother) Patrick Cooper is general counsel for the bank, and he protests.

January 27, 2013. “Patrick Cooper, who compiled a list of ‘Awesome Horror Anthology Movies’ for the blog Topless Robot, said the form’s popularity comes down to the economy of a cheap thrill.” So, yeah.

March 26, 2014. In a running tracking of gun deaths in the USA: “Wayne Patrick Cooper, 36, a known gang member, was shot to death in an S.U.V. parked outside an apartment complex in Downey, Calif., early Tuesday.”

It’s not 100% bad news. In 1963, there were two notes of a Miss Windisch becoming engaging to and then marrying a Patrick Cooper. They had 50 years of marriage. All Patrick Coopers can hope to be that Patrick Cooper.

Who causes Patrick Cooper problems? You do

I claim other Patrick Coopers and their aspirations are responsible for my search-engine problems (“problems”). But we all realize it’s really your fault, Internet people. You search for the other Patrick Coopers.

You google the mayoral campaigns. You want to find the jazz albums. It’s partially my fault, I know. You know where to find me. The others, the Patrick Coopers who don’t have patrickcooper.com locked up for decades, you have to hunt for them. And now we have some proof:

The cool Google “Insights for Search” beta tool offers the above chart, noting searches driving the data are “patrick cooper birmingham” and “patrick cooper mayor.” Was testing the tool for work. Couldn’t resist. Going forward, I will work harder to hide and to arouse your interest.

(Also, if this post makes you try Insights beta, my work here is done.)

#ONA11 thanks the almost mayor of Birmingham

So, as you know, four years ago, a lawyer named Patrick Cooper ran for mayor of Birmingham, Ala. Fascinated by the man taking my No. 1 Google rank, I followed the race in city blogs and reported on it here.

One of my sources at the time was The Terminal — a terrific alt-media site. The Terminal’s editor, André Natta, saw my linking to his site and was amused. He promptly blogged about “The other Patrick Cooper.”

When André posted, I was at the Online News Association conference in Toronto. The post made my day, and I commented. We continued to watch each other’s Cooper coverage throughout the campaign. I liked the site so much I bought its “Nice to have you in Birmingham” shirt.

Lawyer Cooper eventually lost, which helped me get back my Google rank… until two years later, when Cooper ran again. I began following Birmingham’s news scene again, and André weighed in, offering sage advice on which outcome would help me the most. After a tight race, Cooper lost again. A Bhamwiki page on him held Google’s No. 1 spot.

Two years on, last week, I was again at the Online News Association conference, this time in Boston. The night of the conference’s official start, the group I was with stopped at Meadhall bar, where Nieman Journalism Lab was hosting a happy hour upstairs. We had time and taxi issues, and we barely made it before it ended. But we found our colleagues quickly. They were chatting with people we didn’t know.

As I glanced at all of the name tags, who was there but André Natta. Exactly four years after our initial linking, we’d ended up at the same conference, same bar. “Hey,” I said, “I’m the other Patrick Cooper.”

This digital-news world was one small, crazy, awesome world.

We got to hang out at different points on the trip and had a good time. He gave a cool talk about truly engaging with audiences during the “If I Were in Change” session, and I agreed totally. Whether from D.C. or Birmingham, you never knew when you might run into your audience.

French Patrick Cooper, bringing people together

How has a weekly meet for Chicago-area French speakers survived?

Longtime members, including Ard and 20-year veteran Tom Walsh, ascribe some of this success to Patrick Cooper-Leconte. Cooper-Leconte (né Cooper) unofficially led the group from the time it started to cohere until he moved to France in 1997 after marrying a French woman he met at one of the Wednesday meetings. “A couple of times it looked like it was going to die, and he kept it alive by brute force of determination,” Walsh said of Cooper-Leconte. “It was getting kind of wobbly after he moved to France… but then the Internet came along, and the Internet has made it possible for it to self-perpetuate.”

Patrick Coopers and the Internet! Is there anything they can’t do?

Cooper-Leconte, for his part, explained via e-mail from France that he “never really ‘ran’ the group, I simply stayed with it and did things that others in the original group had done before they went elsewhere or lost interest — compiling names and numbers, inviting people to parties and other functions, introducing everyone around, remembering what people had in common, that sort of thing. The one unusual thing that I did was almost always to be there, week in and week out. I was there over 500 Wednesdays and missed maybe 10 — vacationing in France.”

Okay, so, we’re just good at showing up. But we’re really good at it.

(Link via Lindsay.)