|Computer-globe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Since "Google" has become synonymous for "search engine" I've used this term in my title. It's the search engine that I use almost exclusively and I would imagine most of you do so as well. There are many search engine options and in many ways any of them are superior--certainly far more convenient--than other research options.
Some of you enjoy going to the library and this research option can provide some great hands-on opportunities for research with resources that are frequently more reliable than internet resources. Most of us have probably been the victim of unreliable internet sources which in some cases get duplicated onto other sites until the faulty information eventually gets permutated into seemingly reliable information
Caution must be taken when doing internet research, but that is an applicable caveat to doing any kind of research. Often conflicting accountings of events and histories can mislead us if we are not careful. Using multiple resources, organizing data, and filtering by the application of our own sense of logical reasoning can help us in drawing the best conclusions, but mistakes can still be made if enough care is not taken.
My personal experience with internet research is a mixture of good and bad. Search engines can give us access to facts such as weather, historical events timelines, geographical data, or even genealogical background--usually much of this information can be obtained for free right from your computer at home. If you're like me and prefer to work in the comfort of your own home rather than getting out into the hubbub of the outside world, obtaining information on the computer is a great advantage not only from the standpoint of convenience but also limiting stress and transportation costs.
Aside from the dangers of succumbing to inaccurate information that is sometimes disseminated online, my biggest trap is getting sidetracked by all of the easy access to other information related to our searches. Not that this can't happen in a library or similar research venue, but distractions come so much more easily when we are on the internet. One click on a link that we happen to see can lead us down a rabbit hole into subjects we had no intention of researching or just reading about.
The distractions can be fun and even result in new brainstorms. Sometimes we'll find information related to what we are looking for at the present or something we had previously been researching purely by accident. Taking that sideroad can turn out beneficial, but more typically our diversions just make the research activity last longer.
Google and other search engines are a boon to those of us who need to do research--usually far better than those encyclopedia sets most of us probably used for composing school reports. As with anything there are good and bad sides. The computer is an amazing tool for connecting ideas and bits of collected data. I've found numerous things related to my family history as well as data that has sparked memories about my own life.
In compiling accurate and interesting memoir, we should never limit the resources we use to collect data. We need to get out of our houses to experience the world and the lives of the people around us. Reading good resource materials and talking to others can provide information we might not have run across in other ways. However, since we often do spend so much time at our computers, the search engine is one of the better ways to prompt and fuel our imaginations.
What is your preferred or favorite way of finding memoir data? Do you have a problem finding trustworthy data online? Can you recommend any particular sites that are particularly useful when researching for writing a memoir?