Today was a freaky day. Early in the week, it appeared I would be mostly free today. Then I wasn’t. Then I was. Then I wasn’t. Then Saturday fell through and Tuesday freed up. Everything I planned seemed doomed to reschedules and cancellations.
So I decided to play around on facebook so at least if I was canceled, I wouldn’t be doing anything important. A friend posted something that was going around facebook, whereby you create a random band name, album name, and cover. Basically, the instructions send you to a random page on wikipedia, and that’s your band name. Another random page of quotations gives you your album title, and your album cover comes from a random page on Flikr. After gathering all that, you put it together in Photoshop to create your album. It was kind of fun and it killed an otherwise wasted hour.
But then I thought, “What if we put all this randomness to some good?” And then it hit me (I often get hit with things – that’s what I get for not paying attention):
Why not define and create a completely random research report?
So here’s the idea, and I hope some of you will play along. Even if you can’t, pass it on and let’s see how many people actually do this:
1. Go to The Random Name Generator and click the red “Generate Name” button at the top of the screen
2. Go to Ancestry.com and enter your generated name in the search box on the main search page.
3. From the results, your research target will be the first census result for your generated name.
4. Using whatever online resources are at your disposal, see what else you can discover about your random person and write about it. It can be a formal report complete with footnotes, or just a “research story” about what you tried, problems you overcame, or success you had. Maybe you want to create a research plan for practice?
5. Post about it on your blog or wherever you wish, and link here to tell me about it.
I think it will be great fun to read what experiences people have with this! For those that are considering client work, this is actually a fairly practical exercise to see what you can uncover.