Was There Research Before Google?

I think that I forget how we researched anything in the past.

This morning I started to research a new industry.  I began by googling a few keywords leading me to some sites and articles on a range of topics related to the industry.  When I found something interesting, I bookmarked it in Delicious.com, added appropriate tags, and maybe some notes so I could remind myself why I found it interesting in the first place. 

Then I decided to concentrate on finding industry blogs to follow.  These blogs were fairly easy to find as I stumbled across a decent blog early in my search and basically stripped it of the listed blogs that interested me.  I decided to save all the blog links in Google Reader so I had to go through the rather tedious task of screening each blog link and then subscribing to each one-by-one.  Cut & paste, tedious?  I guess that I’m spoiled.

On to Twitter next where my first step was to follow some of newly found blogster friends.  Then I decided to go the wefollow.com route, did a keyword search, and started to find some other new, best friends.  So I now have a feed that I set up as a TweetDeck group of tens of people sending me information, basically doing my homework for me.   Facebook would have been next but my research at this point is confidential so I didn’t want to call attention to the fact that I was picking at this market and decided (at this point) not to establish a separate, stealth FB account. 

As I was going through this process I found myself asking the question, “How did I do this 10 years ago?  15 years ago? 20 years ago?”    Did I start by picking up the phone and talking to people?  Did I immediately head to the reference section of the library?  I couldn’t remember.  And quite frankly I’m not going to risk hurting my little brain trying to remember.  It amazes me how quickly I can now get up to speed on any topic by using the new tools of the trade.  I don’t want to remind myself how hard it used to be.

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