Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Out of Site....

I was discussing the tracking down of research material with a friend and fellow historical writer today, and while explaining why I prefer to have a physical book for reference over a website link (even if they contained the exact same material) I wrote the following line:

Out of SITE, out of mind. 

If information is tucked away on a website somewhere in the vast and sprawling internet (or my equally sprawling Bookmarked list), or a hard drive file on my computer, inevitably I bookmark it, or save it, then promptly forget its existence.

Whereas if it's in book form, sitting in a pile on my desk, or the table beside my desk, on the floor by the desk, or one of the bookcases surrounding my desk, then one glance at the pile or the dust jacket or the appropriate subject spot on the shelf and I see it. I know it's there. No Googling needed.

And I just love being surrounded by books. It's like being surrounded by friends (really really quiet friends, but still). I feel secure in knowing that I'm not in this historical writing gig alone. I'm standing on the shoulders of all those authors of all those books.

If I fall (in my knowledge of a given subject) their words will catch me like a well woven net.

That's all I wanted to say today (yes, in pixel format!). To sum it up: I like words in books better than words on line.  

What about you? Does it make a difference when you're researching something? Would you rather have the physical book to thumb backwards and forwards through, or even (gasp) highlight and scrawl notes in the margins? Or does having it all tidied away neat and out of sight appeal?

12 comments:

  1. LOL! So that's why I have piles and piles of printouts of my researched on the internet aricles in files, stacked in piles, and generally thrown all over this study. ; )

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    1. That's the only possible way I'll ever remember it exists... but with my aversion to paper clutter, it almost never happens. Give me a book!

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  2. Most of my research is in real books, too -- preferably owned ones. Some library titles are so helpful I go on to purchase. I like being able to highlight, fold down pages, and hold it all.

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    1. I do the same thing Caroline. If I find myself reaching for the highlighter with a library book in hand I know it's time to get my own copy.

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  3. Some of my research is in book form. These are items that I'll reference and reference again. For one time reference it's online all the way. It's concise, takes up less space and fileable. But I do love books and am surrounded by them too.

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    1. Jo, I agree, for a quick, one-time reference nothing beats Google (I just looked up whether 18th century merchant ships had figureheads like the naval ships. Yes, they did.). But if there's information or a particular subject I will need to reference over and over again, I prefer to have a book. Or many books. Even if I print off reams of paper they have to be filed away somewhere... out of sight (site), out of mind. I'll forget they exist. But a book in a pile or a spine on the shelf makes its presence known as a visual reminder. Ah, for the mind of a twenty year old again.

      No, wait. Just the memory capacity, thank you!

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  4. I totally relate about bookmarking sites and forgetting their existence, Lori! When I find helpful material on a site, I often copy it off, with attribution, into a Word doc. and save it in my Research folder as well as bookmarking the site. But then I forget it's there! And I forget to check the folder to see if I have any info on the particular topic I'm researching. Talk about senior moments. lol! Having the book on the desk or floor beside me is really the most effecting way I've found to stay on track with research. Makes for a lot of piles, of course....

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    1. LOL, glad I'm not the only one Joan. After I posted I wondered, "Have I just let the world know I'm getting old?" :)

      Book piles are the only piles I have any tolerance for. I seem to spend half my life battle paper piles. I'm not about to add to them if I can avoid it.

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  5. Lori - I have binders and binders of stuff...and so much of it is obsolete, or at least in obsolete format now with the internet constantly updating, bigger, better, more, more, more! But I'm always afraid to throw it away (or recycle it, of course) because there might be that ONE thing that I discovered that I'll never find again.... I'm not a horder, really I'm not. But I like me some paper, that I do.

    BTW - loved seeing your name in the Publishers Weekly article about up and coming directions for inspirational fiction. You trendsetter, you!!!!!

    Blessings,
    Becky

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    1. Becky,

      I'll have to pass that trendy torch back to Laura Frantz and J. M. Hochstetler and Siri Mitchell and Deeanne Gist and Laurie Alice Eakes and Carla Gade and other authors already published and/or still writing Colonial and Early American fiction in CBA. I'm grateful they've kept a door open and the time period still seems popular. It's certainly captured my heart and I'd like to keep writing stories set then for years to come.

      I was surprised by that article. My agent scanned those pages from the physical copy for me, since I don't subscribe to PW.

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  6. Lori:

    After doing my dissertation with print sources taking over my home, I'm kind of relieved that I can do some of my fiction research online. I still love paper, though.

    Congrats on the PW article!!

    In other news, I've nominated you for the Liebster blogger award. Here's a link to my blog with the award and guidelines: http://www.amararoyce.com/2013/02/liebster-mein-liebster-award.html

    I hope you'll play along!
    -Amara

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