I started this blog with the idea of writing a book...
... in the very first post I wrote:
In the back of my head, I want something tangible to emerge from this. Ideally, a book, or a series of books, about how people search... how they research... and how they get good at doing this.
While I thought I wanted to write about search (and Research!), I had no idea that this would begin a slow process of transforming me into someone who, in quiet moments of reverie, considers himself to be a writer.
And yet, that seems to have happened. The Joy of Search came out in late September of 2019 with a flurry of sales and activities. At that time, I'd planned an international book tour with invitations to the Oxford Book Festival, the Royal Society in London, and bookstores everywhere. I was hoping to do the full authorial road trip with speaking engagements and book signings hither and yon.
Then March 2020 brought all of that kind of thing to a quick stop as COVID began closing things down. Alas. I'm certain that book sales suffered; I know that my book tour didn't happen in the way I'd planned.
On the other hand, the COVID pause has given me time to think about writing on other projects.
It won't surprise you to know that I'm working on a couple of book projects. First is that series of chapters (with my friend, Mario Callegaro) about "How to Find Anything." (You've seen several of those chapters appear here in SRS. (#1: Finding DIY content. #2: Finding Recipes. #3: Finding News.) By the end of 2022, we'll virtually staple all these chapters together into an e-book for everyone to use. That's one project.
In addition, I started work on a NEW book all about Unanticipated Consequences.
We know humans are terrible about seeing the implications of taking actions in the world, but can we get better at thinking through these things? Could we actually anticipate the consequences of our actions instead of just blindly letting them happen? (Spoiler warning: Yes we can, but you'll have to read the book to find out how!)
This book is probably about 1 year away. But just as I started the SRS blog with an eye towards writing The Joy of Search, I'm similarly starting up a new Substack newsletter to give me a way to write on this topic with a regular, weekly pulse. If you'd like to follow along in that conversation, you can read the first post HERE (it's free to subscribe--hit the big orange button at the top of the page).
But that's all prologue. Let's get back to SearchResearch!
As you might have noticed, sometimes the SRS Challenges are really fairly difficult. (Boy do I know THAT to be true!) And a few regular readers have commented to me that while those are interesting to read, they don't really participate because it seems too hard. That's not the effect I'm looking for, so I'm going to try something slightly different for January, 2022. We'll try putting out a few SRS Challenges that are fun, fairly straight-forward, but as interesting as ever. My hope is that we'll engage everyone to try the Challenge, and learn something interesting along the way--both about research skills, and about the world in general.
So, in that spirit, here's the first Challenge. Let me know if you find this interesting / more fun / perhaps a bit more engaging that the ones from 2021.
1. As you know, I'm interested in natural history, and also in regular history--and also in the ways those two intertwine. You probably already know about the now-extinct Carolina Parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis). It went defunct around 1918, right during the Spanish Flu epidemic. And so while there are a (very) few stuffed specimens of the Carolina Parakeet, can you find a drawing (or etching or painting) that was done from life? (And yes, I know about the painting in the Wikipedia article. Can you find something OTHER than that?)
C. c. ludovicianus by John James Audubon. This is the blue subspecies variant of the green/yellow Carolina Parakeet (C. c. carolensis) P/C Wikimedia.
This shouldn't take too long to do, but will reward you with a few lovely images that are not often seen.
Let us know what you find!