I love Moleskine notebooks, first of all. I have used them as lab notebooks for the last 2-3 years, and they are excellent all around. However, they suffer from the main drawbacks of hard copy anything:
- They only exist in one place at a time.
- They are not searchable in any modern sense of the word.
- Sometimes I can’t read my own writing [not a drawback for everyone].
Before Moleskines I kept my logs on our lab wiki, but that was a bit cumbersome.
Enter Google Notebook. I’ve written about other reasons to use Google Notebook before, and around the time I made that post I started using it as a lab notebook as well, but I wanted to give it a trial run for a couple of months before posting about it.
A couple of months have passed, and here I am. I’ve settled on the following format:
- One notebook per month: Each month, I create a new dedicated monthly notebook.
- Old notebooks are moved to Google Docs: It is possible to export a notebook directly to Google Docs. This is a more appropriate place for a long-term, large collection of documents, and it keeps the Notebook uncluttered.
- One entry per day: I started off with each logged item in its own entry. This became cumbersome. Now, I use one entry per day, with timestamps throughout the entry whenever a new item is added.
In contrast to the Moleskine, or other paper journals, this one is present everywhere that I have internet access, and is completely searchable with Google juice. I’ll post on it again after another few months’ use if I have any further insights or enlightening experiences.
Why was the wiki more cumbersome than Google Notebooks, out of curiosity?
There is no edit mode vs. view mode distinction. That’s the major reason.
I’m interested in doing something similar and using Google Notebook for a phone conversation log. You mentioned timestamps on your entries. Are these entered manually or is there some more (semi-) automatic way to generate them?
Richard: I add timestamps manually. The latest updates (which I have been meaning to write about) now datestamp the notes, but there is no automatic timestamping.
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