Writing contemporary fiction means any and everything can be considered research. There are times when I need further information on something I heard, read or randomly thought about during the day. On top of that, I generally like to research things that catch my interest (i.e. are there beavers in Egypt? The answer is no, btw) using search engines and whatnot. Personally I prefer Google but when the opportunity came to try the BingItOn challenge, well, we couldn’t resist.
For those who are not aware the BingItOn challenge is a side by side comparison of Bing and Google. You ask 5 questions and the results pop up on either side, supposedly blind. Some users are able to recognize results that Bing would not have, such as YouTube clips though that appears to have changed recently.
We connected a computer tower to the television and were testing the internet connections when I suggested we use the BingItOn Challenge. Between the two of us we picked some severely weird questions. What car was the most popular seller in 1970-something. How do you make coq au vin? I forget a few of them but one stuck with me.
We asked about nuclear blast capabilities. The site that came up let you choose the size of the bomb and where you would let it go off. We chose Tampa, it’s close and hey, why not? On the national map it zoomed in to Tampa and, lo and behold, we discovered we would not be affected by the actual blast – living somewhat north of the target zone – but the fallout would have sucked. Awesome, right? We played with that a little bit and there was an option for multiple blasts though we couldn’t get that to work.
Not a big deal, right? Random searches for an internet challenge. Google won, by the way, though I give Bing mad props for having excellent directions on the preparation of coq au vin.
Skip ahead a week and I start questioning the FBI rank structure as I need an agent of some sort in At Wit’s End. Due to the nature of the book – it encompasses cyber crimes, old fashioned cons and a few new-fangled ones – I found I could find that same information for Homeland Security. Again, not a big deal, normally.
I completed my searches, found out what I needed to about the FBI rank structure and then linked over for Homeland Security. It took me to the actual Homeland Security site even though that was not actually the link I had clicked on. I was lost on the site for a while and then closed it out after not discovering the information I was looking for. I decided to skip it, no big deal, adding Homeland Security was a side thought and, considering I hope to use these characters in a series, I can come back to Homeland at another time.
Discussing the oddness that took me to Homeland Security with my close friend, I was reminded about the nuclear blast capabilities search we did. So now, I wonder…
Will they decide I’m some sort of national threat? I highly doubt it as I wasn’t searching how to make the bomb or different ways to camouflage one. Do they watch these sites? I have to imagine they do and I’m assured by all and sundry that I probably, officially, have a file on me.
Ah, the joys of writing contemporary fiction and the weird places research can take you.