A big deal has been written about the subject in the past. Starting from the paperless office and the fully pervasive environments (with Pads and Tabs and Screens) of Weiser to paper augmented systems. There have even been fully electronic systems, built by the research community, like LabScape and SmartTea, and complete paper solutions with digital pens, enhancement lenses and agregattion of different digital information sources.
My professor Jakob E. Bardram is a strong believer that the days of the paper notebook are over. I, however, still believe that the usage of tablet PCs and notebooks is so cumbersome for the laboratory work that adoption by the scientists is difficult.
I believe in a paper based system with an electronic counter part (like PRISM). This system would have to be built on top of PRISM with features like the following:
– Web ready version of the electronic notebook.
– Handwriting recognition.
– In-paper formatting and editing (via gestures).
– Electronic aids for the paper interface (like calculations and conversions in the pen on the fly).
– Picture capture of different elements.
Other desirable features are:
– Downloadable version of the electronic book at different timestamps.
– Comparison between versions.
– Protocol follow up.
Paper is a very rich input mechanism, it allows us to have free style input and we could shape it so we have the more rigid kind of input like the keyboard’s. The point is discovering tools (e.g. gestures) and adopting them.
Juan David Hincapie Ramos