In the last four weeks, I have done a considerable amount of research in support of various parts of a novel that I am working on It has all been done at my desk, sitting in front of my screen. I have reviewed the history of the Apple II and Apple MacIntosh computers. I have explored the history of law enforcement in Japan. I have explored kata in various marital arts disciples. I have googled (yes it is a verb in common use now) swords and found Cold Steel’s informative web site. It just goes on and on.
I love books. Over the years, I have bought and recycled many, as my desires exceeded the capacity of my books shelves (and my home). Books used to be my favorite research source. I used to spend time in libraries, browsing and reading books and journals. I went to books stores simply to see what was new, interesting and relevant to what I was currently writing. Now I do 80 to 90 percent of my research on the web using Google and Wikipedia. They are sources of endless distraction (from writing) and delight. I do not know what I would do without them.
Of course, there are some unhappy side effects to this new addiction of mine. I no longer interact with as many informative and interesting librarians as I once did. I miss the people watching in bookstores, both large and small. I use more paper, computer toner and other consumables than is warranted. I interact with software rather than live human beings.
But I cannot deny that Google and the resources on the Internet have changed the way that I think about writing. My need to know facts, rather than make them up, is finally being met in a fairly time reasonable way. I can find or verify most things in less than ten minutes. I no longer need to spend hours in dusty stacks, or in what always seem to be nosy reading rooms. I can even play the music I like as a background to my research.
Hopefully, this will all add to the appeal of my writing.
Originally posted November 24, 2008