Thursday, June 6, 2013

Thursday Review—How to Find out Anything

by Lynn H Blackburn

One of these days, there’s going to be a knock on my door.

I’ll see a couple of people in dark suits and sunglasses.

They won’t be smiling.

When I open the door, one of them will flip open a badge.

I’m not sure which agency it will be. My guess is Homeland Security (do they have badges?) or the FBI.

They’ll ask to come in. Tell me they have “some questions.”


Because of Google.

You’ve got to love Google, right? All sorts of information at your fingertips. Who needs to go to the library when you can kick your feet up and ask Google to tell you how much chlorine gas it takes to kill someone (Reason #1 for my visitors) or how long anthrax can live in chlorinated water? (Um, yes, that would be Reason #2).

Google answers those questions reasonably well, but what if there were ways to ask Google to be more specific? Or what if there were other websites that could give me far better answers to my questions?

I found How to Find Out Anything by Don MacLeod at the library. (With a title like that, how could I pass it up)? The subtitle caught my attention, too. “From Extreme Google Searches to Scouring Government Documents, a Guide to Uncovering Anything about Everyone and Everything.”

Now, if you’re anything like me, you consider yourself to be reasonably tech-savvy.

Let’s face it, you’re reading a blog right now. So odds are good that you feel confident navigating your way around the web.

But, if you’re anything like me, the internet as we know it today didn’t exist when you were in school. So odds are good you learned most of what you know on your own. You didn’t take a class on how to use a search engine. It’s pretty straightforward.
Isn’t it?

Turns out, there’s a lot I didn’t know about Google. How to Find out Anything devotes a couple of chapters to it and are well worth the time of any writer who has ever searched for an elusive quote or spent way too long searching for a random fact.

The very best part of this book is at the end of each chapter where the author provides a list of each website or reference that he mentions in that chapter. The list at the end of “A Reference Desk to Call Your Own” is a goldmine of handy websites, several of which I had never heard of but promptly added to my Favorites tab.

If you want to take your research to the next level, check out How to Find Out Anything.
My next research project? How to determine if a badge is legitimate. And do those Homeland Security guys carry them

So, how about you? Think you might have a thing or two to learn about Google and research?

Don’t forget to join the conversation!

Lynn Huggins Blackburn has been telling herself stories since she was five and finally started writing them down. She blogs about faith, family, and her writing journey on her blog Out of the Boat. Lynn is a member of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and the Word Weavers, Greenville. She lives in South Carolina where she hangs out with three lively children, one fabulous man, and a cast of imaginary characters who find their way onto the pages of her still unpublished novels. She drinks a lot of coffee.


  1. Yep, they'll be coming to take you away soon. But don't worry, I'll visit you in jail! :-)

    Great info. Thanks!

    1. Vonda, I think Lynn and I will be in adjoining cells - you can visit us both! Blessings, E

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this! It sounds like a great resource.

  3. Sounds like a fascinating book!
    Barb Winters :-)

  4. While the book sounds interesting, it's also scary! As a writer of futuristic fiction, the Big Brother factor is not lost on me.

    Maybe I'd better pick up this book. It could be an interesting guide to resources I need.

  5. I'm going to have the Men In Black show up at my door, too! Just a month or so ago we were out to dinner with friends. The husband is a retired contractor, and I scared him when I asked how I could start a fire with knob and tube wiring. Sometimes I forget that not everyone lives in my head and some things require explanation beforehand!