If NBC’s “Dateline” is ever investigating my disappearance, the authorities will be very misled when they look for evidence in my internet browser’s search history. In writing The Grandfather Clock, themes emerged that probably landed me on a watch list. When I wasn’t searching for Nazis, hotels in South America and the logistics of international travel with weapons, I was using currency calculators and looking up the organizational structures of foreign law enforcement. It’s important to know if a Peugeot has a glow-in-the-dark escape latch INSIDE the trunk.
If My Search History Doesn’t Put Me Under Surveillance, This Blog Will
I remember the first time I noticed when an advertisement on the sidebar of my Gmail account corresponded with the subject matter of the email I was reading. This was before I fully understood the extent to which my free email account was being used to sell me things, and tell the NSA where I’m going on vacation. I can’t remember what the ads were, but I immediately tested the algorithm by emailing my future wife a long email about rubber duckies, which was accompanied on the sidebar with everything I needed to know about procuring rubber duckies. I rarely notice these ads anymore and I don’t think I’ve ever clicked on one. As an aside, Google doesn’t offer many ads when you search for Nazi conspiracy theories.
Smartphones: The 8 Track Cassettes of the Future
I think it was in one of the Jason Bourne books when Robert Ludlum spent a now-amusing-to-me amount of time explaining how a fax machine sent pages via telephone line. Technology will turn a book into a “period piece” within months. The smartphone has changed all forms of storytelling. Characters used to go visit hermit-like university researchers to get their next clue. It was more interesting to send them search the dusty stacks of a dark, forgotten corner of the library. But setting a story in the present presents a challenge in that it can be quite dry to show a character Googling an evil villain and then texting the love interest to meet him at the shipping dock. Boring. Today everyone is carrying a James Bond device in their pocket. Near the end of The Grandfather Clock I had to deal with the smartphone issue, and I tried to use it as an opportunity to make things more interesting.
I slipped up with my technology in one scene and was called out by my editor: “What twenty-four year old woman has a CD collection?” She was right. I’m forty and I haven’t played a CD in years. My son doesn’t even know what they are. He doesn’t understand why I can’t replay a song we hear on the car radio, much less any song he wants to hear at any time. The jury is out on how well my book holds up in fifteen years, an eternity technologically, but one thing is certain, this blog post will be dated.
While I’m drinking a Zima, waiting for my CD collection to become cool like vinyl, feel free to drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Or fax me.)
Up Next, Part III – Your Main Character Is A Stupid Arrogant Ass
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