Friday, July 1, 2016

No, Really Officer, It's for Research!

A popular post from May 2010

By Julie Wright

I watched a program on Google searches and what they indicate about the people doing the searches. One woman interviewed said, "People confess their darkest secrets to Google as they run searches for sexually transmitted diseases or porn, or ways to kill their neighbor's cat. They confess thoughts, addictions, and medical conditions that they wouldn't tell a random stranger, yet they are willing to confess it to a computer."

It got me thinking . . . what would my Google searches say about me?

Especially when I've searched for not just one sexually transmitted disease, but have Googled pretty much all of them, or when in my recent searches, I've Googled the words, "What does a meth overdose look like?"

This current book I'm writing has a respectable body count. People are dying in all sorts of diverse ways, but I swear I am not on drugs, an axe murderer, or a sociopath. My Google searches would lead people to believe otherwise.

At a writer's conference I spoke at a few weeks ago, I sat in on one of my friend's classes. She was talking about world building, and how even if you are setting your story in the world that we live in, you still need to world build. You still need to know if the spotted fawn is indigenous to upstate New York if you're planning on using them in your book in that location. She made the point that writing fiction doesn't mean you get to make EVERYTHING up. You do have to know certain things. You do have to do your research and get it right because someone in the world *will* know if the spotted fawn is indigenous to New York, and they will publicly denounce you if you get it wrong. The devil is in the details and as authors it means we must try to get every devilish detail right, even if it means my Google searches make me look like a psychopath.

If the police start thumping on my door, will they believe me when I tell them the search for how quickly various poisons kill a grown man was really just research?

You believe me, don't you?


Amber Lynae said...

Oh the things google thinks it knows about a lot of writers could make a good book.

Josi said...

In the last month I have researched autopsies, 1njection sites, and offshore currency trading SEC violations. Surely there's nothing weird about that, right?

Annette Lyon said...

Oh, yes, Officer Google would think I'm nuts based on my searches. And someone giving my reference shelf a quick glance might a bit freaked out too.

It's all for RESEARCH, I swear!

Anonymous said...

I love to satisfy my curiosity, write about things I can google-research, look up when I have medical worries.

This week I looked up why puppies eat mushrooms (and came upon a magic mushroom site, that was very intriguing although I'm not interested in partaking, only identifying, just in case), deep sea oil rigs, Jacques Cousteau, meanings behind names, and u-tube videos about young teen heart throb boy-singers.

The puppy thing was personal. (My puppies have been eating mushrooms!) Everything else was for writing research. You never know when some odd thing will spark you as a perfect drop on or thing to use in your story.

And I'm right there with you, some searches are more weird looking than others!

And a very few sites I accidentally have opened over the years (like a WRONG publishing site, once, or a link to a funny video that ended up taking me to a giant woman shaking her boobs)I hit delete cookies and history and empty cache immediately in a horrified panic.
I have my own inner police woman.

When we have to censor our otherwise innocent curiosity,or be labeled for our fear-based research (medical concerns, etc.) the www will be a much smaller and less safe place to explore information.

I do wish, however, that x-rated sites, violent, and hurtful sites were not out there anywhere and that is a dilemma for decent people and children both.

Kimberly said...

The more serious I get about writing fiction the more research seems to be absolutely necessary. I recently asked Facebook friends if Grade 8's do science projects or not. It was only relevant to one paragraph of the novel I'm working on, but I had to have it right.

I'll stick up for you if you stick up for me, m'kay?

A Pen In Neverland: Angela Peña Dahle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A Pen In Neverland: Angela Peña Dahle said...

Ha ha! Great post. I sometimes wonder this--being curious never hurt anyone right? I wrote a post on it too. I've done a lot of research for one of my novels (loads more to do) which took me down some strange paths,ending up on some VERY strange sites that I wish I had a dislike button for. So now I try to seek out actual people who can answer the tough questions--the experts.

tonyl said...

An old thread, but JIC. From The Passive Voice:
If you click through to Google will show you what it remembers about you.
Thanks for sharing.