Truman Capote is, among other things, the author of In Cold Blood and one of the most respected American writers of the twentieth century. He’s also been dead for almost thirty years, so it’s a bit jolting to see him start getting credit for New York Times articles courtesy of Google +. It’s all due to Google working out some… kinks in a new system.
If you’re not a blogger, you probably haven’t heard about Google’s “authorship” system. Basically, you tie your Google + account to a domain, and in theory, Google then includes your headshot and byline in any articles you write. It’s yet another advantage they’re trying to add to their content: In the long run the idea is that anything an author writes can be found just by clicking their name and headshot.
So how did Capote, who died just a few months after Mark Zuckerberg was born, wind up getting authorship credit? Well, Google + being a social network, somebody made Truman Capote a page, because that’s what bored English majors do. The actual author of the piece he was credited with writing was Emily Bazelon… the Truman Capote law-and-media fellow at Yale.
Google solved the problem by shutting down the Capote fan page, but even so, they’ve got to be feverishly working on either fixing their search results, or making their special projects lab finish up that “reviving the dead” project we all know they’re working on so they can insist it was a mistake.