Often when I’m sticking graphs into my lab book, I get the feeling I’m much like a scientists from the early 80s. Presumably they knew that affordable office-printing was just around the corner and that, soon, they wouldn’t need to draw their graphs by hand. Lab-work was on the cusp of revolution, but it was just far enough away to be frustrating. They could see the future, but the world hadn’t caught up.
Thats where I am when I’m pritt-sticking graphs in to a lab book. It is, without question, the best method of collating data together, but it really shouldn’t be. I should have a tablet computer that runs some awesome lab-book software that pulls in data and plots it directly. Where my R code is compiled on-the-fly to produce rich interactive pages, where my LabView programmes are controlled, where voice dictations and photos are added seamlessly and where backups and references are all send to and grabbed from the cloud. A digital lab book, with a stylus that is no different to jotting with a biro.
There are bits and pieces of this everywhere. Mendeley, Dropbox, Sweave and tablets that just-aren’t-quite-good-enough to not be frustrating compared to my trusty lab book.
We’re on the cusp of a lab revolution. I just wish it would hurry up.