Self-documentation Tools

I’ve had a number of posts in-progress for a few weeks now, but they’re all missing a piece or two that makes them incomplete (and that doesn’t include editing).

I (as I’m sure others) struggle doing a good job documenting my projects.  I tend to move at a pace that doesn’t leave a lot of room for capturing the process, and I’d really like to do something about that.  I know that I have benefited immensely by the effort others have put into documenting their work, and that many of the things I’ve been able to do would have been impossible if not for the documentation that others have created.

I think one of the greatest casualties from the difficulty of documenting a project have been failed projects.  It’s hard to motivate yourself to put effort into documenting and sharing failure, but I will say that I’ve learned just as much, if not more by studying projects that didn’t turn out the way they were expected to (this is especially true in 3D printing, where studying failures of others helps identify patterns that would otherwise be difficult to detect looking at just your own bad prints).

It would seem that we have the technology to improve this situation, and perhaps there are already better options than I’m aware of.  In particular the use of small video cameras, microphones, speech-to-text conversion, etc. should be able to be combined into something that could record the work-in- progress and produce a nice pile of input for the editing machine.  This of course simply transfers some of the work to editing, but fortunately editing is less chronologically-bound (i.e., you can go back and edit something, but it’s harder to go back in time and take a photo of something mid-assembly).

A more sophisticated system could even assist with the editing stage, sort of a pre-processor that could take the captured data and “shape” it based on what’s known about the project, what has been documented in the past and any other contextual information (date/time, weather conditions, season of the year, biological monitors, etc.).

What do you think, is there a set of tools you use to document your work that you would recommend?  I’m currently using Evernote as sort of the “hub” of this process but if you have any recommendations or suggestions please share them wherever you found the link to this post ( twitter , ello , facebook , whatever you prefer).

- Jason