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Research: Nobody goes there any more. It’s too crowded.

Part of that heading, attributed to Yogi Berra, is how I think about the research process, as I dig into all things New Zealand.

The over-abundance isn’t so much about raw materials (books, articles, movies, websites, etc.) as the vast and discordant array of vehicles for all this stuff–a world that is also more contradictory, spotty, motile, and “analog” than many think these days.  This isn’t new to librarians; it’s our life. But it’s good to actually walk the walk once more (and outside of the area of library science).

My first intentional “reading” was a viewing last night of the movie Samoan Wedding (known in New Zealand as Sione’s Wedding), which introduced me to the rather slim oeuvre of Samoan New Zealand Bromances (Twitter friends tell me the sequel debuts this very week).

Like most bromances, Samoan Wedding was crude in all directions, but I liked it very much — for a bromance, the women were exceptionally varied, and the story kept us laughing and involved. There were some interesting sartorial moments; I am trying to identify what the men wore to the wedding (lava-lavas?).

We watched Samoan Wedding because it was available through Netflix instant viewing. I queued DVDs for a few more movies I found via these two Wikipedia pages (which in true Wikipedia fashion overlap and contradict one another, and yet are very useful). I put a few more DVDs unavailable through Netflix into my Amazon queue, with a note to self to purchase a region-free player, since the DRM for DVDs is managed through an inexplicable geopolitical system which presents all manner of obstacles to access for honest viewers (and based on the web chatter, little problem for the dishonest).

What I wanted to read first was The Penguin History of New Zealand. I requested the book as a pickup at my local SFPL branch (after paying my fines…), since I see the 2012 edition is due out in February and I am too cheap to buy a waning edition. Meanwhile, I’ll slake my Kiwi Fever by using my Kindle app on my iPad to purchase the Lonely Planet guide while I start digging up books to request via interlibrary loan (I loved the back-and-forth about Lonely Planet vs. Rough Guide — a fine customer debate).

Using WorldCat Local, I have also been browsing contemporary and wartime narratives, both of which I find a window into understanding the world. I see that the closest print copy of New Zealand at War is in… New Zealand, which is also true of New Zealand servicewomen, World War One, and so forth.

I found an interesting title about mariners in World War II — Hell or high water : New Zealand merchant seafarers remember the war — and will buy it for my Kindle app, but it is here I must pause to ask my fellow writers to stop using the phrase “Hell or High Water” in their titles. The fact that copyright law generally does not apply to book titles does not make you any cleverer for forcing searchers to page through piles of identically-titled books (just as I was going to call this post A Fine Bromance until I Googled it–I’m several years late to that party. And yes, my Yogi Berra title isn’t all that clever, either).

At any rate, I’m at that early point in the research process, well before the refinement period, where research is inchoate because I’m not sure of the questions I’m asking. It’s an interesting journey–still quite picaresque for now.

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