Several years ago when I was working at BBDO, one of our clients was Ontario Tourism. On this particular occasion, I was to write a brochure on fly fishing for them — a subject on which I knew less than nothing. In less time than it would take a fisherman to cast his line (or whatever it is they do), I became enough of an expert to write an absolutely splendid brochure, if I do say so myself. I even found a great recipe for cooking your fresh catch, over an open fire, in the great outdoors, under a moon-lit sky. A quite charming addition to the piece.
Not that many years before that, I would have had no other choice but to spend hours and hours at the library. Or I’d have been forced to first “let my fingers do the walking through the yellow pages”, looking for where I might find sportsman-type shops; and then I’d have to schlep myself to one or two of them, where I’d look like the idiot I was, asking the sales staff stupid questions.
While it was always fun to get out of the office on these little field trips, it did take critical time away from the task at hand, which was the writing. And the deadlines were brutal enough, without having to spend days and days on research.
Some writers love the research part of it. I don’t mind it. I quite like digging for info and finding new angles along the way. But I like to get to the writing as quickly as I can. That’s my favourite part.
Frankly, at this point, I don’t know what I’d do if somebody took Google away from me. I honestly don’t think I could do what I do. Just out of idle curiosity, one of these days I should keep track of the time I spend ‘searching’. It wouldn’t surprise me if I spent almost as much time on Google, as I do writing. Even when I’m just writing these blog posts, I am constantly looking stuff up. Constantly clicking back and forth between the work and the information gathering. It is so quick and so easy!
I can get the lyrics to a song. Verify facts. The date a book was first published. A blow by blow description of open heart surgery. A recent photo of just about anyone. A year-old interview with the Dalai Lama. A recipe. Instructions on how to fix a flat tire. An address. A telephone number. A postal code. Directions. A link to a spiritual guide in India. The address for a tailor in Bangkok. A list of the world’s best bottled waters. Volunteer opportunities abroad. The current time in Melbourne. The meaning of the handshake. The origins of Argentine tango. A list of Warren Buffett’s mistakes. The history of the Corvette. I can even Google myself.
Now that’s fun. Have you ever checked yourself out? I have. It’s amazing what turns up. My search rankings are pretty good.
There are, of course, some pesky privacy concerns with Google. They do retain all the information we all search for. For some time. You might want to give that some thought the next time you get curious about something, and decide to delve into it.
Which, now that I think about it, is making me think about some of the things I was looking up while I was reading the Shades of Grey trilogy. Hmmmm …