For the fall 2011 Discoveries newsletter, I wrote a feature article entitled Recording nature: Field journaling as Raven goes global. This was my attempt to summarize some of the most useful methods, and also to ask why a person might want to keep a field journal. And might a community also want to journal? Is the name for that a blog?
The 21st-century naturalist
All of us have heard (and told) stories about digital devices severing or dulling our connections with nature. But for several reasons, I’m excited about the growing popularity of iPads and Android tablets. Not only can they make awesome field tools. Even indoors, for some of us, these devices may begin to restore attention span. For the past decade, with fellow and sister naturalists, I’ve been creating richly illustrated pdfs: lengthy journals and reports. But printing out an 80-page trip-log in full color is prohibitively expensive, not to mention tedious. And the alternative—sitting at a computer monitor for several hours, passively reading a pdf—is equally unacceptable.
I hope that tablets running apps such as Goodreader (iDevices) and ezPDFreader (Android) will change that. They certainly have for me. When I kick back in bed with my tablet, attention relaxes into book-reading mode, something I have less patience for with fingers on keyboards, and distractions of multitasking sapping my focus.
The July 2013 STREAM Institute at UAS emphasized use of iPads in place-based education. Here’s my journal for that 3-day workshop.
The most exciting book I’ve read on the subject of journaling is Field notes on science and nature, 2011, edited by Michael Canfield.