Saturday, 15 December 2012

A Little Too Caught Up in Research

This is a question for writers as well as for anyone who’s had to do in-depth research on an obscure topic, perhaps for work or school: Have you ever got so caught up in researching your subject that you forget most people aren’t experts on, say, global warming disaster theories or foreign policy in Tang Dynasty China? It happened to me the day before yesterday. I was with a group of friends, hanging out at someone’s house, and I got up to go to the loo. When I came back, the topic had somehow turned to the Internet in the early 90s and one girl remarked that at that time, not that many people in America used the Internet.

Pretty much all of my research for this fic has pointed towards that definitely not being the case! Certainly amongst such users that were online in the early 90s, America had the biggest demographic by far. In true online forums fashion, I chimed in on a discussion in progress having only heard the most recent comment. “But there were quite a few people on BBSes.”

My contribution was met by general silence, blank looks and a couple of “What?”s. I looked from one person to the next, wondering if I hadn’t spoken clearly enough. It was only when one guy in the corner explained, “Bulletin Board Systems” that I realised most people just didn’t know what a BBS was. I gave a brief and flustered explanation of how dialling into a BBS worked and how people used them to communicate in the early days of Internet.

“Huh,” said someone else.

After that we concluded that maybe BBSes had been popular amongst computer hobbyists but not so much the general public at large, and the conversation changed topic. I was a bit disappointed not to be able to share more of my findings about the early Internet, but to be fair, we probably would have been there all night otherwise.

Anyone else ever had this experience? Forgotten that not everyone has spent hours trawling academic articles for information about synaesthesia – or waxed lyrical about the properties of gemstones only to trail off and find your friends looking at you funny?

If so, I feel your pain. x3

1 comment:

  1. Ha-ha, I feel your pain too. Though, to be fair, my family and friends have known my tendency to channel random nerdiness for years. And that god forbid I'm not allowed to release some of that data into the info space once I get started :)

    But once I lost a budding friendship with a very interesting person because of being caught up in a new research topic and unable to shut up. The topic was drugs. Not the ones available over the counter too. I've always steered clear of the practical side of this, but at that point I was morbidly fascinated by the theory. She didn't know me well yet, and looking back, I understand how that looked to her...