Experts Trump the Internet. I Swear.
I like a short cut as well as anyone else, but sometimes–especially when it comes to research for writing–the Internet can’t deliver the details you can get from an expert.
The Internet is great for a quick fact check, but when you want depth, it’s best to seek out resources that aren’t stored there.
An instructor at a writing conference put it this way: “If you want to find out about stamps, skip the Internet and go talk to a collector.” You get to the right information more quickly. This is especially important for writers who may not have a specific question (“When was X coin put into use?”) but want to gather more general material. Sometiems you don’t even know what you want to know yet.
This is where I find myself as I research life in Depression-era East Texas. Internet is so-so for help. Books are better. Regional museums and primary materials, even better. But best of all: oral histories and real interviews. That’s how I’ve gotten the best level of detail to lend the right texture to my new novel-to-be. Plus I don’t spend so much time drifting through semi-helpful web content when I should be writing.