Lab Book

30 years ago I worked for a company that had retained habits from yet another 30 years earlier. One of those was that each employee was expected to maintain a lab notebook. These books were bound with numbered pages of graph paper. The binding and number was to prevent any temptation to tear out pages. The idea being that your recorded thought processes weren’t to be tampered with.

By that point in time new employees were no longer given training in how to use their notebooks. My father though explained to me that in his day the ritual was to begin each day by enumerating each and every thought about the work that had occurred since the book was last opened; then thru out the day notes would be recorded about all your activities. Some of my coworkers at that time would make marvelously ornate doodles in their lab books during meetings and other people would complain about them much the same way people not complain about the IM back channel.

I often tell people that I use my Blog as a lab book. It’s a much better analogy than “diary”, “magazine”, “newspaper”, “radio talk show” because it’s rare that the listener personal experience with a lab book. It answers the query buy it doesn’t pin me down much.

I do like to the use the blog as a way to create a string of beads along this or that thread in my thoughts. I don’t feel these beads need to be particularly well formed, just a bit more solid than a passing whim; but certainly not defensible to any particular degree.

One way the blog is different from the Lab Book is how public it is. The Lab Book was always considered the joint property of the firm and the employee; but in the end the firm would retain ownership when the employee left the firm.

It’s interesting how the personality of documents (lab book, memo, spreadsheet, powerpoint, etc.) shape the nature of the work.

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