I applied for a job recently, and it got me thinking about one of my shortcomings when interviewing with people who don’t know me already. I’m a great synthesizer – I can hear and process many pieces of information, and quickly articulate big-picture meaning in a way that many people have noticed and appreciated as exceptional. However, as soon as I have done this, my brain discards many of the details. I don’t care about the name of the theory, or the theorist. Perhaps in a connected way, I can re-experience favorite books and TV shows, because I’ve forgotten the details. In my working memory, I am very detail-oriented. I don’t miss things. I know I’m great at my job. I remember the names of a class full of students very quickly, but if I meet a new person on the street that I suspect I’ll never see again, I have forgotten their name by the time it’s out of their mouth.

Again, this is a problem for job interviews. It’s also difficult when I come across a piece of information that I know will be useful… but I haven’t hit the appropriate context yet.

My passion is curriculum design. In my perfect job I’d be helping instructors from diverse disciplines design learning activities, courses and programs, while teaching a course or two myself. Bigger picture, I’d love to be building teams, culture, and capacity. My current job isn’t too far from this, with about 50% paperwork thrown in. Thinking about applying for other jobs (with less paperwork), I realize I need to find a way to track and organize all the great ideas I’ve come across, and come up with. This iteration of ONL has added many new ones to the pile. Currently I have a few half-baked blogs, some folded-over book pages, a bazillion open tabs, and old work journals with sticky notes poking out. Realistically, I’m not sure I’ll go back into all the past stuff, but I need to develop a system for going forward. A blog with a good tag system? A wiki? A giant annotated bibliography for my brain?

I’m deeply curious about how other people’s brains work. Is your brain a filing cabinet, a map, a junk drawer? What systems have you developed to support your thinking (and not-thinking)? How are you integrating all the things you’ve learned in ONL?

Sticky notes & Open tabs