G is for Google

This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge–blogging every day in the month of April (except Sundays!) with each letter of the alphabet.

One of the most invaluable tools in my writer’s tool kit is Google. Not just the search function, though that too is amazing. I’ve been writing for a long time and I remember when ‘research’ meant going to the library, checking out a bunch of relevant books, poring through them, and taking notes. You might get what you’re looking for on the first try, you might have to go back. Now I can type in anything I need to know about and instantly get thousands of results. You still have to do some picking and searching, but I never have to leave my house.

Is there a nostalgia for the old way of doing things? Certainly. Is the new way easier? Absolutely. Would I go back to the old ways for nostalgia’s sake? No. We look back on nostalgic things fondly because we know we don’t have to do them anymore.

Google has another extremely useful feature for the writer–Google Maps. Google Maps has a brilliant function called Google Street View. This means I can see what virtually any spot in the world looks like at ground level. I think we become so used to technology that we don’t stop to think about how utterly brilliant and magical this is, how we live in the future now, how such an amazing thing is possible and so accessible to us. I can write accurately about places I’ve never been. I can stand on a street with my characters in some far-off place and see exactly what they see. I can build worlds based on accuracy. I’m a visceral writer, so being able to grasp the ‘feel’ of a place is immensely useful to me. Until the day I can just blink myself there, this is the next best thing.

How about you? Do you find technology useful in your writing? What futuristic things are in your tool kit?

14 comments

  1. I actually still do some of my research in libraries. A lot of my research involves science, and a lot of scientific periodicals have paywalls on the Internet but are available for free at the local library.

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  2. I love than everything you’d ever need to research is online now. I know that Wikipedia is not a ‘true source’ (according to my colleagues at work) but man, it has EVERYTHING, and you can spend a lot of time racking up a lot of ‘useless knowledge’.

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  3. I have never used Google Maps that way in my writing! May have to search. I love technology, and how I can easily research. I do have fond memories of looking through the card catalog and going to the library about a thousand times for a research paper I did once on Katherine Mansfield. I can still remember the smell of the shelves and the dust of the catalogs. Miss those days a bit.

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