So here's a fun if disconcerting exercise: Google your Second Life avatar's name, and be sure to put it in quotes. Note the number of Results you get. Now do the same with your real life name (also in quotes) and tally those Results, as well. Which number is larger? Marvelous Second Life blogger Kit Meredith did that recently, and though she's an IP lawyer in real life, discovered that far as Google is concerned, her avatar is more popular than her. ("The really interesting results," says Kit, "are the ones where you find your name being dropped in discussions that you’re not a part of.") This is part of a larger trend, as Kit notes, with avatar identities infecting music social networks, Flickr, Twitter, and other Web 2.0 sites. (Forseti Svarog points us to an analyst's unifying term for the phenomenon: "Generation V".) But somehow the effect seems most jarring, at least to me, when it shows up in the ultimate search engine. Google being the world mind and all.
As for me, Google's ratio of "Wagner James Au" to "Hamlet Au" results is roughly four to one. But then, most search hits on my real name are related in some way to my SL identity, so I'd call that a wash.
How about you? Take the Google challenge and post your ratio in Comments.
Update, 5/10: Bumped. Of the 19 readers who've posted the results of this experiment in Comments so far, 11 have Second Life avatar names which Google more than their real life names.
Update, 5/12: Of 34 Residents now reporting, 20 say their avatars Google more often than them.