Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Writing 101: How Scary is Your Search History?

It’s possible I’ve been flagged as a serial killer.

I’m really not one of those conspiracy theorists who believes the government is secretly behind every major event, but sometimes I do worry about my search engine history. I know that Google keeps track of the stuff I’m looking up, so it feels totally within the realm of possibility that the government may also have this sort of power. The government probably doesn’t have as much money as Google, or anything, but I’m pretty sure they can make Google give them information. 


Getting Weird with Google

And if they can, it’s possible that my name is on somebody’s list somewhere…because I look up extremely strange stuff on Google.

I got to thinking about it the other day when I looked for authors who committed suicide, the same night I was searching for information about electronic toys. I've searched for information about legal proceedings, how to get blood out of leather, Christmas decorations, and Will Ferrell in the same week.



To the outside observer, it probably all looks pretty strange. Looking up information about small towns, suicide statistics and quiet ways to kill people seems a little psychotic. And if, by some chance, the government also knows that I watch a bizarre mixture of shows about murder, game shows and Hallmark Channel Christmas movies....let's just say that I wouldn't blame anybody for putting my name on a list.

It looks a little bit crazy, but some of it is done in the name of research. If I write murder mysteries, I need to know a thing or two about bloodstains and efficient means of getting rid of a body. If I'm also interested in Will Ferrell's life and I need a few stats in order to write a better blog post...well, that Internet is made to answer questions about people like Will Ferrell.

How scary, strange or just plain weird is your search history? As an author, you're bound to collect a bizarre collection of queries. You may also need to explain this to anyone who happens to see what you've been studying. Don't worry. A simple "I'm a writer" can explain away a whole lot of strange behavior.

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4 comments:

  1. I know exactly what you mean. I often think about Google keeping track of my searches every time I look up certain topics for my current novel such as "overdosing on Lithium," "treatment for alcohol poisoning," and "maximum penalty for manslaughter in Pennsylvania." I'll keep the simple yet honest "I'm a writer" explanation in mind in case anyone comes knocking at my door. ;-)

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  2. lol good plan! Thanks for commenting.

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  3. I may be in the UK but I'm sure my searches are showing that I'm one of the psychotics that lurk in the shadows of my mysteries. Best to claim I'm a writer... but then the tax man might think I've got offshore accounts.

    Oh wait, they've already tried to prove that.

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  4. yeah I know England is pretty ruthless about taxes. My homeland started a war over it!

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