Thursday, 20 September 2012

The loss of paper?


This morning I was browsing through the ASAS newsletter and stopped to read this article.
Pros and Cons of hen lab Records Go Digital

Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done!
I found myself nodding along, agreeing with the author.  I love my paper lab notebook.  It follows me from farm to field, and back to campus for the 'real lab' work.  Everything goes in.  Even if it's just a note saying that I fed and everyone is healthy and happy.  But there are things that never do make it into the lab notebook.  There are huge data files generated from indirect calorimetry and most of our analyses, from nitrogen to VFAs to Chromium and more are done by automated machines that give you a data file, not a paper result.  Those rarely get transcribed in their entirety to the notebook.

Not the time to be trying to type.
But giving up the paper completely?  No, I can't, or won't rather, take my laptop out to the farm to record pH values on rumen fluid or rumen contents weights.  I know what my papers come back looking like after that, and it it's pretty...  I can pick up a pen when my hands are in gloves and covered in who-knows-what to jot a quick note in the book, but I'd never type on a keyboard that way.  And sometimes, those notes are crucial later when analyzing the data.

Right now, I live in a world or half paper, half digital, and that's ok.  I think I manage the balance without misplacing information or forgetting what is where.  Plus, hard copies are less likely to die in an electrical storm or coffee spill (both of which I've seen happen here)!
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