Right now at my work, we are having professional development. That means talking a lot about technology. For example, today we were discussing data analytics and big data. Yesterday was about logic and programming. Tomorrow we will be covering cloud computing and virtualization. These are amazing background pieces for a science fiction writer (of conventional thriller I guess). They are topics I know a lot about since I teach that sort of thing, but there are always avenues I haven’t really thought through completely.
I also did a session on diversity in the workplace a while back. Now, that doesn’t give me much about tech, or much specific to a science fiction story… however it does give me excellent character background, demographic data, etc.
Last week I went to a conference. It was a pretty small one, sponsored by my union. I got some from the conference, but more from the venue… at least in terms of research. Also, people, lots of meeting people, who I can add to my collection and pull traits from.
Mind you, sometimes you need specific research, but this stuff is so brilliant because it gives you bits and pieces beyond the real research, bits of flavour mostly.