One of the hardest aspects of writing this blog is keeping track of all my potential ideas. As I wrote yesterday, most dots are a synthesis of several thoughts that I connect together to craft a lesson. But I collect those ideas from multiple places and over an extended time period — making it challenging to keep them in a format that allows them to stay alive and not lost.
For example, Sunday’s dot was from an email my friend sent me in December, 2015 (14 months ago — Thanks, Tracy!), inspired by a dot I did last week, coupled with information from years ago when I was working on a campus. I have ideas written in little notebooks, pictures on my phone, emails and texts with ideas from friends, electronic copies of articles that inspired me, things I hear on the radio, social media entries, newspaper and magazine clippings and more. The challenge of synthesis is not only melding the ideas in my head, but being able to physically access the accompanying reference materials to be able to write about it.
It reminds me of a scene in the 1988 movie Working Girl, where Melanie Griffith is asked how she got her idea for Trask Industries to acquire a radio network. She pulled out a file folder with an article that had Mr. Trask’s daughter’s wedding announcement on one page and a feature about the radio’s star DJ on the next page. The proximity helped her to make the connection.
I don’t think most of our environments are set up to foster synthesis. Our office has rows of file folders or electronic documents that keep each item in its own separate location. Our schools teach individual subjects and don’t often provide interdisciplinary instruction. Our lives are kept manageable by keeping things in silos and schedules.
Think about what you can do to put some of your different inputs in proximity with each other in a way that may encourage synthesis. Have conversations with friends and family that elevate the discourse by chatting about ideas, rather than just the events of the day. Make time to journal or reflect on what things mean to you and how they relate to each other. Mentally try to make connections as you absorb new materials.
And if any of these methods reveal an effective way to integrate multiple media inputs, please let me know!