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Unicorns, Vegetable Lambs, New Media

April 22, 2010

The Jeopardy! question is, “What are things that do not exist?”

When it comes to non-fiction, I am apparently most comfortable writing about anatomy, health, medicine…basically anything that is connected to the human body. There’s a lot of nice, concrete information online about biology and anatomy, as well as a wealth of info about herbal medicine and its efficacy (or total lack thereof).  Every once in a while, though, I feel like branching out and writing about something ELSE. Fashion, cooking, even business…just for a change of pace.

The problem is, apparently these other topics don’t exist. If I can’t find information about them on the Internet,

The elusive New Media only comes to virginal maidens...must be why I can't find it

they must be fake. Worse than fake, actually, because there’s plenty of info about things that are mythical or at very least dubious online. I look up “what is new media,” and I get a Wikipedia article, which is nice, but I’m supposed to use more than one source to write my own articles. The other articles that come up are totally useless. They’re all prefaced with a statement like this: “New media is difficult to define.” Then they go on to guess at what it MIGHT be. I guess no one really knows what new media is. Actually, I’m not that surprised.

Doing searches related to cooking or fashion topics usually results in a long list of places I can shop for meat thermometers and men’s shirts. I like shopping fine, but I don’t want to know how much these things cost, I want to know some technical information about them that I can spin into a brief article.

Worst of all is when I do a search for something and there are NO results directly related to my topic. Awhile ago I was trying to do research on a particular kind of yoga and the only results that came up were related to a yoga studio. I checked out the yoga studio. They teach the variety of yoga I was searching for, but they don’t say what it is, how it differs from other types of yoga, etc. Not helpful. Arrrgh.

I thought the Internet was supposed to be a massive forum for all the information in the goddamn world. Where is the information that I’m looking for, then? How can it not exist? Is the reason why I have to be the one to write about these topics that no one else has ever done it before? HOW CAN THAT BE?

The sad part is, I can look up “unicorn” online and find a wealth of information about unicorns. No one says, “A unicorn MIGHT be a mythical horse with one horn on its forehead, but we’re not really sure.” Clearly, I just need to wait for my client to ask me to write about unicorns, and I’ll be all set.

In the meantime, back to anatomy.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 22, 2010 12:30 pm

    I realize this is not really the point, but:

    You might try cross-referencing “social media” and “citizen journalism,” which are both sort of squares to new media’s quadrilateral. You’ll get a lot more in the way of reliable sources that way, and a more in-depth look at what constitutes new media.

    Also, hi! I’m so glad to see you’re doing well!

    • April 22, 2010 1:45 pm

      That is good advice! Sometimes widening my searches does really help me when I find a strange dearth of information…it just feels good to vent about my LEAST favorite part of my job, ie, the research. (Actually, that’s not always true, sometimes I really enjoy researching certain topics. I guess I’m just in a bad mood.)
      And it’s awesome to hear from you!

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