Friday, September 30, 2011

Variety is the Splice of Information Synthesis

I love the fact that information is absolutely everywhere. Sometimes we make concerted efforts to discover data, and sometimes it is the force that acts upon us, smacking us into a new realization. Putting disparate information together in new combinations can create fantastic new patterns and data. The quirkier and more eccentric the information, the better for me.

I've been fortunate enough to have positions in the media that require some offbeat inquiries. Unbelievably, I only yesterday realized that I have specialized in image retrieval without even knowing it. I particularly liked the wardrobe and hair/makeup queries, although there were also ones from props, set decoration, straight fact-checking and others. Working on a topical comedy show, information was very time-sensitive, and we had to keep abreast of the political situation in Iran, the currency conversion rate with America, and the latest haircut Lady Gaga was sporting. As you can imagine, this changed daily, if not hourly, right up to our deadline. I really liked the wide variety of queries I was given, and felt a bit like an 'information concierge'. I might have had videotape out from Parliament, CDs from the music library, art books from the visual library, biographies from the regular library and archival footage- all from in-house sources, so it was sometimes a task to juggle returns.

"How do you pronouce the Latin phrase...?"
"What`s the middle name of the opposition leader?"
"When did Angela Merkel first get elected?"
"Where is Nauru?"
"What size crinoline would an 1870s dress have?"

Sample List
-telephone directories and reverse phone look-ups
-professional photo websites such as Getty
-museum and gallery websites
-auction catalogues
-press releases
-Clarence House
-DEFRA and other government agencies
-official websites of MPs and other public figures
-major news websites
-gossip websites for joke fodder/paparazzi shots
-advertisements and physical products in stores
-corporate websites
-union documents
-personnel in legal and other specialized department
-my mother for agricultural issues, aunt for medical, etc.
-trivia quizzes and contests
-academic experts in particular fields


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