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Jenny
06-20-2008, 05:13 AM
Sometimes when looking for information/inspiration we don't quite know where to start. Do you crank up the internet, and if so, which sites (eg science sites for Science fiction, perhaps?) do you go to? Do you accost strangers in a train and ask them for amazing facts? Or do you have a secret treasure trove?

I do.

This will undoubtedly sound odd to other people, but I have two sets of decades old children's encyclopedias (one, part edited by Enid Blyton). These are fantastic collections of simple introductions to topics I know nothing about -- electricity, steam trains, birds, whatever. They also provide short intro to classical mythology, fairytales, fables, etc.

So, children's encyclopedias is my contribution to a list of unlikely reference resources. What's yours?

Mumut
06-20-2008, 06:12 AM
I agree with you, Jenny. At high school I'd look up the Children's Britannica first for a simple overview of the topic before trying to labour the brain cell with details. Now I make Google searches on the topic, phrasing the key words in different ways.

AZ_Dawn
06-21-2008, 02:44 AM
I used genealogy sites to find some period names. Some ethnicities were harder to find than others: the French genealogists were very generous about posting their research online, but it was a struggle to find Irish Catholic records in my time period. For the most part, though, it worked for me. Cyndi's List (http://www.cyndislist.com/) is a good place to start for genealogy links.

HeronW
06-21-2008, 03:40 AM
refdesk.com & resourceshelf.com

Jenny
06-21-2008, 05:12 AM
refdesk.com is fantastic - thanks for the link :) as for naming characters, I find it a huge challenge, thanks for the geneology tip (it sure beats the White Pages for finding a name).

stormie
06-21-2008, 05:19 AM
I talk to a child. They're fascinating with how they perceive the world.

Izunya
06-21-2008, 05:39 AM
Dunno. Does my husband count as unusual?

Past that, I tend to get a basic outline from Wikipedia, which at least gives me an idea of the names and terms I should be looking for.

Izunya

soma
06-21-2008, 07:43 PM
Old encyclopedias are great. They tend to be *much* more extensive on certain subjects--since, while the amount of relevant knowledge has increased a great deal over the years, the length of encyclopedias has not, there's much more room in the old ones for the subjects they do have.

Libbie
06-21-2008, 09:31 PM
Sometimes when looking for information/inspiration we don't quite know where to start. Do you crank up the internet, and if so, which sites (eg science sites for Science fiction, perhaps?) do you go to? Do you accost strangers in a train and ask them for amazing facts? Or do you have a secret treasure trove?

I do.

This will undoubtedly sound odd to other people, but I have two sets of decades old children's encyclopedias (one, part edited by Enid Blyton). These are fantastic collections of simple introductions to topics I know nothing about -- electricity, steam trains, birds, whatever. They also provide short intro to classical mythology, fairytales, fables, etc.

So, children's encyclopedias is my contribution to a list of unlikely reference resources. What's yours?

I go over to my friend Mike's house and ask him to go for a walk with me. Then I just let him talk about whatever's on his mind. The man is full of the weirdest information and his mind is like a sponge. He soaks up every drop of it and he usually can't wait to tell it to somebody. He's always reading and learning about something new and weird, and he always has the coolest ideas on what people could potentially do with the things he learns about, or how various political situations could impact a common person's life, or what a fantasy world might be like if it had aspects of his latest research subject in it.

I've gotten more cool ideas for stories from goofing around with Mike than from anywhere else. I was so happy when he moved into the same apartment complex I live in. Now he's extra-accessible.