Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Blast from the Past

I love books.  I'm surrounded by them and I write them.  Yet, my first tool of research is the Internet.  Especially when it comes to answers regarding geography.  Any mapping I need to do is done online. 

Today I was searching for a river - it wasn't a major plot point but it's always good to know where your villain is heading and via which body of water.  Now having actually seen the river in question didn't seem to help - I was drawing blanks on the name.  Google search brought up a quarter of a million results.  You'd think I'd find the answer there but if any search could have been more conflicted it was this one. 

No, I don't want to raft down a river heading south into an elephant training camp, thank you very much.  No, I wasn't interested in the 2006 dam project or in which river borders Thailand and Myanmar.  And no, I wasn't interested in a stranger's travelogue by motorcycle or his view on the long necked women of Northern Thailand.  As interesting as all that seemed, I'm on a time line. 

Finally, I admitted defeat and decided a trip to the library was in order.  And that's when my mother-in-law came up with the answer.  Let's back this up, my MIL is the least electronically connected person I know.  She barely uses her television and she definitely doesn't own a computer.  I've teased her about this whenever a question arises for which she has no answer. "You know if you had a computer you could google that."  She always laughs and brushes it off. 

Today, in a phone call she asked what I was doing?  I explained my recent frustration to which she replied, "If I had my Dent's Atlas handy I'd look it up for you."

Atlas - The answer was slapped in front of me in her innocent reply.  In my electronic fervor I'd forgotten that there was a book I hadn't touched in years thanks to the subtle sweep of Internet into my life.  The atlas had my answer and didn't need a quarter of a million hits or a trip to the library to do it.  Five minutes later I was adding the name of one elusive river into my story and calling it good.

Technology might be the first option but it's not always the best.  Looks like I'll be keeping that atlas, at least for another year or two.  There's something to be said about the stories and tools of the past.


The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book.”  - Walt Whitman

No comments: