Michael R. Canfield (2011)

An absolutely delightful exploration of the art and science of scientific field notebooks, why and how to keep them. Packed with practical insight and also with images from practitioners’ own notebooks. Some of the anecdotes make the book worthwhile on their own: the one that stood out for me was Thomas Jefferson’s devotion to weather observation being so intense that he made four entries on the day he was also drafting the American Declaration of Independence.

A lot of the pleasure comes form the insight into the ways different fields have to deal with their field data — and, for a computer scientist, how inferior to the normal notebook many computer-based approaches can appear. Since I stopped taking notes on-line and started using a digitising pen, I can see the points and see how some technologies will help out more in the future, but it’s still a challenge to get the same level of interaction possible with paper and (possibly coloured) pencils.

5/5. Finished Sunday 27 January, 2013.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)