Sunday, December 5, 2010

Research and Technology

Though I willingly admit to be technologically challenged, I find the internet, for me as a researcher, to be the most amazing tool in my writing toolbox. I can literally find almost anything, at the click of a button.

Where I used to write letters of introduction to prospective sources, I can now contact them by email. I don't have to wait weeks for a response, hoping the letter isn't languishing on a secretary's desk, or worse yet, in the trash can.

And, the internet has made me more confident. I would reluctantly approach people, preeminent in their fields, feeling so inferior to them. Now, having a third book to my credit, I fearlessly (well almost) email people in my research. I have reached out to forensic pathologists, archaeologists, religious leaders, state attorneys, and other writers, all in an effort to compile just the right data, the right nugget of information.

But, the internet has made me lazy in other respects. I used to enjoy spending days at my local library, leafing through old books and newspapers; now all I have to do is click a button and print it out. The information is immediate, saving time, but is not as much fun. And, though I still hunt for the obscure texts, with the amount of books in my personal library currently, I find it harder and harder to track down new titles.

Until I turn on my computer, and hit the search button. Then, my journey begins anew, with new frontiers to challenge and excite me, always on the hunt for a new subject of research.


  1. I have always found that researching in books tells me so much more than researching online or even watching documentaries. The internet is so much more prone to doling out tidbits, often the same tidbits, often in direct quotes. Of course, if I had access to a few research article databases I might feel different but generally, books just have so much room to explore issues and give facts.

    Or maybe I'm just terrible at internet searches. ;)

  2. I agree wholeheartedly. However, I find some of the most interesting "opinions," masquerading as facts on the internet. But, one article on the internet generally leads me to explore a subject more deeply, leading me right back to a book.

    I do like using the internet for people searches, when I need to contact a professional on a particular subject. In that respect, the internet saves me tremendous time.

  3. I use google so much for research, especially for setting and location.

  4. Google is great for setting and location, especially with maps and all that. Since I write a lot of historical fiction, I try to get maps for the locations, print them out, and hang them in my office, so I can use them visually. Don't want to make a mistake and have my characters getting lost.