Thursday, September 6, 2007

Electronic Versus Paper Journals

89 degrees at 2:00 p.m. Sunny--no rain in sight!

The purpose of this post is to share my thoughts on electronic nature journals or blogs. I liked setting up this blog--it was easy and it looked good right from the start. When I made my first post, I felt self-conscious, though, about my writing because it is so public (the world can see me now). That's probably a good thing because I check for spelling and grammar. The blog is a good place to post photos although I have so many I could not begin to post even a fraction of them.

My electronic journal is not going to replace my paper journal. First, I need something for the field, when I am away from the computer. I cannot see myself taking a laptop into the woods. I can quickly jot notes in the journal, not even bothering to make sentences. If I say I would write something when I get back to the computer, it doesn't work. By the time I get back on, I have forgotten what I had seen.

Also, the drawings in my journals have an immediate connection with the notes as you can see in the sample journal entries. I see a lot more detail by sketching a bug or spider then I would by photographing it (most of the time the darned things won't sit still anyway). Drawing allows you to understand and remember more about what you are observing than if you simply took a quick photograph.

The major advantage of an electronic journal is that you are likely to share it with others, especially if it is a nature blog. As such, you can invite people to comment or help you with identification (like that mysterious spider that landed on me). The disadvantage is that you are removed from nature to a certain extent.

The major advantage of a paper journal is its intimacy with what you are trying to observe-- nature. It is a permanent record that can be accessed pretty easily. The disadvantage is that it is not easily shared with others.

So, I will continue to write my electronic blog while using the paper journal as the original source.


  1. I have tried the paper version and somehow I am never committed enough to finish what I have started. Although I am very good about keeping my field journal of what birds were seen when/where. What I enjoy about electronic is the fact that I can share everything with everyone but is also scary at the same time! Can't wait to see your photos! Great blog you have here!

  2. Thanks for the nice comment. The fact that you keep a field journal makes me think that electronic blogs cannot replace a field notebook. I will post some more photos soon but your photos are the best!