The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Posts Tagged ‘information’

The What For The What

Posted by BigWords on April 16, 2016

There’s a whole list of things which are pending, though the most useful – for most people – is going to be the uploading of the majority of non-fiction reference material. Covering literature, film, television, music and more, the material is all of the information which is currently difficult to easily access and utilize. I’ve tried looking, especially for the film and television references, but it seems that the oft-used line “everything is online these days” simply does not hold up. The majority of the material is on the ‘weird and esoteric’ end of the scale, and I’m not entirely sure what can be done with the majority of the facts there are, so people can get access to that as soon as I get time to convert everything into a format that isn’t painful to deal with.

A make-or-break part of my decision to step back into the fray was centered on this. Information. Some people have an instinctive recoil when there is talk about putting a lot of information online, as if the dissemination of materials intended to educate, enlighten and enrich was a bad thing. Well, those people are going to have a hard time over the next year or so, because there are a few hard drives which are full to bursting with reference material.

Along the way I also managed to get a lot of the comics scanned and cleaned up a little – there are about two hundred thousand scans so far, and I expect that to increase a lot once I get through a lot of the things which are sucking up my time at the moment. Those are likely going to find a home on an image hosting site which doesn’t have restrictions of the amount of material one person can upload, but I’ll look into ways of getting a torrent up and running from the HQ. Maybe a cloud hosting thing for the zipped files – that’s for once I have free time, and at present there is no free time.

Something which was suggested in passing, and which I heartily approve, is an easier way to look up books. I have lists and lists and lists here, and there are titles which not only aren’t mentioned on the internet, but whose authors appear to have been ignored completely – I found passing references to some of the books in BMC back-issues, and there are a few reference encyclopedias which have (concise and rather terse) entries for the authors. Given that they deserve some love, I’m going to see if I can get a bunch of the public domain texts up online for free use – I checked PG for the titles I am thinking about, and there aren’t copies available there.

Almost What With The What?

There are times when I have mentioned “almost free use” here, and I want people to note that it doesn’t mean people will have to pay for things that I am making available online. The phrase is merely the easiest to put together, otherwise I would trip myself up in the technicalities and have a massive headache. Better just to go with the phrase as is, however cock-eyed that may be. So yeah, it isn’t an indicator that there is going to be anything more than “when used, this needs credit given and a link placed to source.” It’ll save me trying to figure out various rights uses and blah-blah-blah. Do what thou wilt.

People wonder why I am so stressed all the time – so many things to do, so little time to get everything done.

The Thing For The Thingamajig

At some point I am going to sort out the website, as that is on the list as well. All the information is still here, along with a whole bunch more. I pulled a lot of the biographical material from my handwritten notes rather than using what was present in books and magazines about comics, which have an error rate that makes my head hurt too much thinking about. There’s a duplicate copy of some information lurking on the deep web – and no, I have no idea of the .onion address – but that is an unofficial reproduction rather than an official mirror.

Until things get back to normal…

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Scumbag Of The Week: Jason Peterson

Posted by BigWords on April 2, 2012

Just a quick heads-up for people who should be aware of things going on in the interwebs.

 

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The Difficulties Of Research In The Internet Age

Posted by BigWords on July 25, 2011

Writing about doing research makes up for a large percentage of things written about writing. However clunky that sentence is, it is a reminder that there are aspects to any story which require some thought and preparation – often in areas which are, due to reasons ranging from the age of the individual to their location, rather obscure. Going into this post, I was acutely aware that there are things others have pointed out which contradict my views on research, but there’s enough room in this subject (by merit of scope) that taking a fresh approach might open up new ideas for people to consider. Which brings me to the first of my points – the strata of research.

1 Common / Everyday Knowledge

This is the easy stuff to find out, as there are multiple ways to tackle acquiring the information, but it is still going to evade your grasp if you aren’t asking the right questions. It isn’t too hard to frame some of the material in context either, as this is the preserve of the everyday. One small concern when using the regular, routine and mundane material is redundancy – how many times do we need to be told that it is not advised to walk out into traffic? Interestingly, it is often in SF that these irritating chunks of information are passed around, as if they are great insights.

2 Location / Era Specific Common Knowledge

This is the follow-on from the first category, and whilst the information is still as readily available, it may be restricted to certain areas of research. A good example of this is one of my obsessions – yes, I’m back to talking about pop culture. It may be almost unheard of today, when the young ‘uns are too fidgety to sit through a black and white film in peace, but back in the Good Old Days ™ there were cartoons, newsreels, and even a completely free of charge B-movie thrown in to the cinema experience. Music used to be (at most) three or so minutes – with certain exceptions – and there was no crime; crime having been invented in 1973. That last bit of information might be a lie…

Actually, that was put there to show just how easily a person can be led by misinformation which has crept into the historical record through incorrect assumptions being given more weight than they really deserve. There was a page on Wikipedia, for example, which had a bit about a British comic running at a loss, and as there was no way to prove the information incorrect it was kept up, despite being a lie. It may not seem like something which people should get upset about, but every piece of incorrect data in a work of reference is another problem to overcome for historical accuracy.

3 Individual / Group / Company Specific Knowledge

This is where things take a sharp incline into “difficult” – researching things which are common knowledge to a small group of individuals, though may be completely unknown outside of that area, is one of the most frustrating things I have had to do. When you find someone willing to talk, the danger of them providing unsubstantiated information gets increasingly complex. There’s going to be more on this in a later post, and I’ll throw a few of the things I use to overcome this.

4 Specialist – General Information

This is knowledge which is specific to one area (diamond-cutting, car manufacture, publishing) which can be adapted for fictional uses, or supplemented for use within another area. It’s less difficult than it used to be researching this, as there are now multiple titles which offer introductions to areas which, until very recently, might have been the preserve of those who would enter the profession to gain knowledge of the ins and outs.

5 Specialist – Secrets

This is where “difficult” enters the realms of “impossible” to all but the most dedicated of researchers. You can be guaranteed that you will come up against heavy resistance to any kind of research which is regarded (rightly or wrongly) as being a secret. Of course, having pried a few of these out of people in the past (and accidentally revealing some) I know there are ways to get around the wall of silence. You might want to think twice before you publish anything which falls under this heading, as people take a harsh view of those who would expose things they want kept under wraps.

I’m going to take a longer view of this later.

6 Undiscovered Knowledge

And we come to the highest tier of the WTFery that anyone could possibly hope to research.

For all the vaulted merits of the internet, and the mass of information on tap 24 hours a day, wherever you happen to be, there are some things I can bet you won’t be able to easily track down. I know this. I’ve already looked. If, for example, a person was to write something about Wikileaks, where do you think the narrative would have to begin? Take a moment to think about this, because the question isn’t so easy…

Do you have an answer yet?

Aaaaaand… You’re wrong. Whatever you thought there, the correct answer isn’t 2010 (when traditional news outlets got their panties in a twist), 2006 (when the site was founded), nor 1971 (Julian Assange’s birth), because that does not cover the history of an individual taking it upon himself to reveal embarrassing facts regarding a political group or movement. In fact, if you want to write about Wikileaks there seems to be a precedent buried in the history books – way back in 1767 in the letters column of the London newspaper Public Advertiser, published by Henry Woodfall.

Of course, the newspaper seems to have completely vanished from anywhere accessible via the internet (if it was ever was available, that is), and none of the usual routes seem to take me closer to a copy of the letter pages, so Junius’ scathing indictment of King George III, and his parliament must remain under the “unverified” column. My notes don’t reveal where I found that nugget of historical information – and I’m not entirely sure that the information is even correct, as the newspaper isn’t available to check, so as a fact (or lack of a fact) it sits uneasily in a netherworld of things which I have yet to get around to. Cue epic headache, and the eternal frustration of research.

I’m probably going to take an especial interest in this area, so be prepared for a massive rant dialogue on the annoyance of trying to find something which has yet to be properly documented.

Posted in Misc., Over The Line, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The End-Of-Year Wind-Down

Posted by BigWords on December 20, 2009

I’m in the middle of a massive fact-checking excercise for a That Was 2009 type post, covering notable deaths, the important awards, the stuff that I’ve found interesting and other information, so I won’t be getting around the internet as much as normal. Don’t worry, I haven’t died, or gotten lost on my way home from a night out… As soon as I’m finished prepping the big posts planned for the last day of the year it will be back to business as normal.

If anyone has anything they want added to the rundown of 2009, then leave your notes in the comment section below.

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Walking In The Rain Is No Fun

Posted by BigWords on September 3, 2009

Compulsive research, which has become verbotten in some circles as it is seen as the enemy of inspiration, hits me occasionally. I look up something, which leads me someplace else, and pretty soon I’m finding out about the life of servants in Georgian England, or the kinds of knives used in WWI, or the various names of the seven dwarves (pre-Disneyfication). There’s only so much that I can actually use in my writing, though the act of research for research’s own sake is an addictive pastime.

I like finding out about things I know a little about, but may not be well-versed in. The knack of uncovering information has been eroded in many people thanks to the ubiquity of the web, but sifting through documents for nuggets of intellectuality-stimulating details is one which I have spent years trying to perfect. Time is really cramped these days, so it is to the internet that I look for useful (and entertaining) wisdom of the ages. And maybe check out photographs of cats with funny captions while I’m at it.

There are some questions which can’t be easily answered by books or the internet, and these are the most intriguing.

Such as door numbers being – apparently – out of fashion. Cue an hour of hunting for a building when no shops, businesses or houses have any fucking numbers. Seriously people, is it too much to ask that buildings have adequate information displayed so I don’t end up wandering around like an asshole, peering into shop windows to see if they have a number displayed anywhere.

And the funniest thing evah, is when I find the right building and it doesn’t have the company name I was looking for above the door. Brilliant way to keep me on my toes.

I was under the impression that the use of door numbers was a common occurrence, but Lochgelly (don’t even ask), is above these little social conventions.

Also bothering me at the moment, to a lesser degree, is why are so many train stations are situated miles away from anywhere. Is it to keep people from getting too fat? The station for Lochgelly is built so far from the high street that it might as well change it’s name to ‘Middle of Nowhere Station’ to make clear how far it is from anything.

Maybe I’m being too rough on a village that has seen better days, but it wasn’t the best day and my mood hasn’t brightened any…

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