March 26, 2002
Journals, not all my own

I'm a regular reader of Ed Vielmetti's Vacuum weblog, and I've been getting his periodic mails for a similar period (a couple years now, I guess?). He wanders intellectually in a nice intersection of some of my interests, which makes it a serendipitous read.

One of the items he periodically raises that we largely think alike on is the topic of notebooks and worklogs. I keep a worklog at the office, in part because I need to be able to remind myself of what I've done and what I need to do, and in part because merely noting those things that happen give the,, in a weird sense, more substance. A created history. And finally, since what we're doing is development, it's worthwhile to have some hint of where an idea originally came from, a pursuit of a more scientific method in our daily lives, or something (I suppose this points back to the time I spent trying to corral some of our group's IP....)

Arguably, I do this in my personal life. This log is a non-scientific (that is, wholly refutable) collection of sorts, as is the paper journal I carry in my bag. Do these continually shifting contexts for collection muddy the water unecessarily?

A long preface to say that Ed recently linked to an online archive of Linus Pauling's laboratory journals.

To complete the thought, over the last decade or so I've been slowly sifting through the documents, clothing, books and belongings of my family - my parents and my mother's grandparents. As I've been doing so, I've amassed a large collection of photos and slides, a few films, and many sets of papers. I've tried my damndest to prune out the obvious chaff, but some of the choices were very hard. What to do, for example, with my father's laboratory notebooks, for research that is a decade out of date and - I understand - trumped by faster labs with better grants. Is it enough that I sentimentally saved only the last couple books, with his 'last research' entries?

Eventually, much of it must get digital... Mike (Whybark, see sidebar) has been collecting a nice set of Bloomington information - old archives of Tussin' Up, some digitised videos of Bloomington music by Eric White, etc etc. But what about the ephemeral nature (to date) of digital media? Can we overcome that?

More questions than answers, as usual...

Posted by esinclai at March 26, 2002 10:16 PM |

There's a mildly interesting read on the changing and truly ephemeral nature of content, especially that which is "digitally born" - the book is "Dark Ages II" by Bryan Bergeron.

Posted by: Eric Kristoff on April 21, 2002 01:08 AM
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