An engineer uses a log book to document and record all thoughts, calculations, sketches, readings and anything and everything else related to his work as an engineer. This is an invaluable aid to memory and central repository of work for projects longer than the average engineers memory. Logbooks are traditionally bound, hardback books with numbered pages and places set aside for careful recording of dates and witness signatures - all of this is essential to prove to the courts that your work was your own in patent disputes.
I have a few problems with using a traditional log book:
- It is essential that a log book is filled sequentially with no gaps left for things to be added later. This causes work from multiple projects to be threaded together, making it significantly harder to bring together in your mind all the details of a complex design.
- Integration of computer generated work (plots, calculations, drawings) often comes down to cut & paste the old fashioned way.
- Log books aren't noted for their portability.
- I can't recall the last time I was doing any work without interacting with a computer in some way - either coding or using it to display documentation. The contents of the log book are not tied to this online work without extra time spent entering URLs etc.
I think there is a great opportunity to combine the note taking tools of software such as gournal, Xournal and Micsoft Onenote with the revisioning of modern distributed version control systems such as Bazaar and Git. I spent a couple of minutes sketching out ideas in a mindmap and would love to have a pint with people interested in this technology (users or even potential devs). GPL, of course.
I have created a Google Group called EELB to upload the mindmap and as a place for further online discussion.
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