Through the Dogpile

Speaking of Scott Nelson…..

I was on a task force studying digital imaging with Scott and he often talked about the value of of a “digital dogpile” as a collection of high quality images that could be freely accessible to members of the community who needed them to enhance communications. The reference generally made me a bit uncomfortable–sort of like, “darn, I need a scraper; I stepped in the digital dogpile.”

Actually, the term has a (somewhat) more refined etymology–most commonly used in the old Usenet days days:

When many people post unfriendly responses in short order to a single posting, they are sometimes said to “dogpile” or “dogpile on” the person to whom they’re responding. For example, when a religious missionary posts a simplistic appeal to alt.atheism, he can expect to be dogpiled. It has been suggested that this derives from U.S, football slang for a tackle involving three or more people.

(dogpile. (n.d.). Jargon File 4.2.0. Retrieved September 20, 2008, from website:

My own personal dogpile is the unsorted collection of index cards, magazine articles, photocopies, books and other artifacts that have seemed important enough to me to save, but not important enough to actually do anything with. A recurring fantasy of mine is that I actually make my way through that basket of stuff and figure out why it is that I put it in the pile in the first place.

Dogpile is also the name of an aternative search engine that attempt to aggregate information from multiple search sources to create a single view of the results. While I still use Google most of the time, I give dogpile a shot every once in a while. They explain the origin of the name this way:

Oh, and the name Dogpile?

Well, that’s a funny story. You see, we love Rugby. It’s traditional in Rugby for players to come together and pile on one another. This is exactly what Dogpile metasearch does-it brings together the best results from the Internet’s top search engines, including Google, Yahoo! Search, Live Search,, About, MIVA, LookSmart, and more.

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