Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Paper or Electronic?

Do you remember being asked, when you are checking out at a grocery store, whether you want "paper or plastic"? (I'm guessing that this is probably unique to those in the US.) Well now, I'm asking you a similar question, but with some differences. This time, it is where you use paper or electronic, and you're not checking out at a grocery store, but rather you are in your laboratory.

This question came up because of an article last week on whether one still uses the old-fashioned lab notebook, or if one has moved on to an electronic notebook. For me personally, I still prefer the old-fashon paper notebook. I'm sure if I'm at a very large facility where dozens of people are working on it, and requires some sort of shared knowledge of the experiment, an electronic notebook would probably be more sensible. However, for small-scale experiments, I see the regular lab notebook as being more convenient and with very little fuss. Even though the collected data are in electronic form, as stated in the article, I only have to write down the file name to make a reference to it, or any other electronic files that I want to include in the lab book.

The only thing that I can see happening for me is the migration to make such note using a tablet such as an iPad. Considering that one can have the ability to do both handwriting and typing on such a device, making quick sketches or writing notes the same way one would do on a regular notebook might be the bridge between the old and the new.

So, do you still use the old-fashioned paper lab notebook, or have you migrated entirely into the electronic age?


1 comment:

Andy Rundquist said...

I'm really excited about how LiveScribe smart pens have enabled me to bridge the divide you're talking about here. I lent pens and notebooks to my research students this last summer and I was able to get a digitized version by the end of the summer. The audio piece is another huge plus.