When you’re digging into a subject on the internet, there comes a point at which the site links you’re following become known paths, and those paths start doubling back on each other with increasing frequency. It’s at this stage that you confront two possibilities:
- You’ve discovered all there is to discover on the subject.
- You’ve discovered a self-contained network on the subject, and there are other undiscovered networks dedicated to the same subject.
It seems counterintuitive that this could happen in an information age defined by search-engine and browser arms races, but it happens to me all the time. I search on a given subject, I follow the links, I seem to run out of fresh links, then I sit there, wondering: is there another system of links out there just like this? Am I missing it? Am I not searching for the correct keyword, variable or wildcard?
Maddeningly, there is no way to verify either possibility without actually searching for something that may not be there, and even then the best you is call off the dogs when the sun goes down and tell everybody back at the camp that you did your best. I mean, in the spy business this is why CIA operatives go funny in the head looking for moles. You can’t prove a negative.
I say this as preamble to frame my experience of stumbling onto April L. Hamilton and her various online incarnations. It’s also a lesson in doing due diligence as a researcher, which means digging into web sites, following links, reading comments, following links in comments, and generally being exhaustive in the way that you would be if you thought a big pile of money was waiting for you to find it. [ Read more ]