I'm certainly not telling this audience anything new about the wonders of
the Internet world except to say that when I meet someone who is not part of
it, I see as wide a gulf as if that personal were unable to write or read.
And this has nothing to do with intelligence. My experience: I agreed to
help an intelligent individual with a screenplay based on fact. He had an
interesting concept in mind for some time and is well read on World War Two and
the subject matter. In the span of less that a day, I had more data,
information, photographs, transcripts and historic records than he had
available and knew the subject matter better than he.
My advantaged, other than being on the other side of the digital
divide, was that I knew how to google. With Firefox I am able to churn
out data by the bushel basket full.
An undergraduate paper that might have taken me a month of solid research
time can be hammered out in a week - probably less - and with better data and
more time to reflect on it. Moreover, primary source material is more readily
accessible. For example, in the screenplay the action takes place historically
and not in the United States. Part of it is at an airbase on an atoll.
In virtual space, I went to the atoll in Quicktime, wandered all over it,
saw the old airbase, the shore emplacements, now rusty, looked across the
horizon with a real cam and from old paintings and historic photos in less than
an hour had it "down" what the airmen lived like. The idea that these fliers or their crews
went to a local watering hole the manner that the 8th Air Force guys do in "Memphis Bell" or
"Hanover Street" would be historically
inaccurate. These guys were isolated and how!
Part of the plot has to do with the Americans obeying seemingly lawful
orders and it is easy to put dialogue about Pitcairn's Island in their mouths
and how they would stick with Bligh if they knew that mutiny would end them up
on a rock.I pictured the atoll far different - a plush tropical isle like Hawaii or Bali Hai out of "South Pacific," but less than an hour later, there it was and it was barren and windswept.But this was not the only find in the trove I was able to get the real names of the historic players. Real photos of real people. Crew muster sheets showing rank, date of birth, and if the individuals was still living. Most were killed in action. It took me 90-minutes and I had some ship crews in an XL format and able to do sorts that helped me with the history.One noted historian tells us the attack at sea, the central event, happened under a full moon. But the US Naval observatory records tell us it was only two days past the new moon. The writer in the 1980's probably did not have the time or resources to quickly check that one. Nor was the sea perfectly flat as he wrote so poetically, it was force 3 trade winds which meant it was relatively calm, but the seas were hardly flat.Another example, my spell checker did not recognize "Bali Hai," but googling itÂ revealed 161,000 hits making it a good bet I got it right.What I find unendingly fascinating is that since starting using the internet (in 1980, when it was still ARPNET) how far, even in a matter of months, this resource is growing. I would have needed a good sized University Library to do this before and might have had to take a trip or two overseas and spent a massive amount of time in transcription to get this far. In three weeks I have gotten to a place in the script that would have taken six months and cost thousands of dollars. Now, 45-minutes into the plot, and using maps and dates, I know where all the players were and how they converged on the action and even what the rooms looked like and what the players actually wore. It is real to me and writing about it feels as if I am standing just off stage as the events sweep through history.