The notebook is easily portable with the only need being a pen without the need for your other research files/books to hand. It allows your thoughts to be readily reflected upon and more chance of the critical point of engagement utilised.
Many great thinkers utilised notebooks such as I.K. Brunel featured on you tube at my blog, Paula Scher (pentagram partner) likewise blog, also Leonardo Da Vinci who worked between Science & Art, fig,
‘Page after page of Leonardo’s manuscripts has a gentle but thorough integration of text and figure […] the use of words and pictures together requires a special sensitivity to the purpose of design. [W]hether the graphic is primarily for communication and illustration of a settled finding or, in contrast, for the exploration of a data set.’ (Tufte, 2001, p.182).
I have created a notebook that use’s drawing and writing to combine ideas and readings across varying sectors of design. I use drawing as a research tool as well as writing; fig. This special sensitivity to design are some of the design issues surrounding form and function, and contrasts of light/dark, thick/thin (salience), framing, use of white space, or colour harmony.
'words on and around graphics are highly effective-sometimes all too effective-in telling viewers how to allocate their attention to the various parts of the data display’ (Tufte, 2001, p.182).
Mind maps, brainstorms and notebooks are visual research (visual maps). In the book Visual Research: An Introduction to Research Methodologies in Graphic Design (Advanced Level), ‘it is possible to critique action so as to produce more enlightened or more effective forms of action. The critical thinking in this tradition is a practice in the world, a praxis’ (Noble & Beastley, 2005, p 9).
Critical thinking is what is trying to be achieved through notebooks, visual maps. Praxis is if we look at Aristotle states, ‘practice is the application of that knowledge to solve problems’, this is what design is problem solving.
Visual diaries & notebooks are a form of ‘action research – where a diary tells, in a step-by-step way, of a practical experiment in the studio’. This is ‘research through art and design’, ‘where the end product is an artefact – where the thinking is, so to speak, embodied in the artefact’ (Frayling, 1993/4, p.5).
Tufte, E R. (2001). Envisioning Information. Graphics Press LLC , Connecticut
Noble, Ian & Bestley, Russell. (2005). Visual Research: An Introduction to Research Methodologies in Graphic Design (Advanced Level). SA, AVA Publishing
Frayling, C. (1993/4). Research in Art & Design. Royal College, Vol 1, No 1. London.
Da vinci figure from : Pederetti, Carlo. (2006). Leonardo Da Vinci. UK, Tajbook