The chief trick to making good mistakes is not to hide them — especially not from yourself.Daniel Dennett
In Dennett’s book, Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking, he suggests that we need to build up our cognitive toolkit to help solve wicked problems. He expands on this in this interview in Brain Pickings.
The basic gist is that mistakes are good things, and that we can’t try and hide them from ourselves.
To do this, we need to (as suggested by Dennett) become the documentarian of our lives. We need to serve as the factual record of our lives, and use digital tools to archive our processes and products. Lastly, these resources are rocketfuel, and can lead to new inspiration. They can help us in novel situations, and perhaps can help others as well.
Document Your Thinking
Part of this toolkit involves you becoming the documentarian of my your life. I actively document my learning online. I not only document my successes, but my failures. Most of my blog posts and writings are an active process in which I’m trying to make sense of the world and my work.
This is evident in my series of posts about digital badges. It’s also evident in my posts on web literacy and other work. I’m trying to bring this to my work and thinking with my work in a variety of areas. A basic mantra of “let’s think openly online.”
I’d extend Dennett’s thinking by suggesting that in a networked culture, we should identify times to openly document our thinking online, and share all…especially our mistakes with others.
Mistakes are Golden
If you are not making mistakes, you’re not taking enough risks.Debbie Millman
As you document your thinking, you’ll get some things right…you’ll get some things wrong. If we’re building and breaking things on the bleeding edge, we will not if we got it right until much, much later.
In fact, some of the times I’ve been labeled as wrong, months or years later I’ve been shown to be correct…or at least somewhat correct. This provides little to no salve for my ego, but it helps me check my notes over time.
The documentation of our process and product is great for innovation. It helps in metacognition. It helps as we reframe failure in our lives. This is great for tracking and understanding your thinking.
This is one of the main reasons why I regularly blog, publicly…online. I want to save some space for those opportunities for inspiration.
This is Rocketfuel
Writing each day and documenting your life is a powerful tool for making sense of the world.
This process is helpful for me because the process of writing each morning gets my brain pumping and keeps me focused on tasks at hand. We spend too much time pumping out witty social media status updates that hopefully will go viral. After the day has passed, we never look back at this trail of breadcrumbs to see if we actually learned anything. Are we making our lives better?
Having a space, or a suite of tools to document your life and decisions made allows you to come to some sort of clarity about goals/work/life. It also helps my brain churn and think about new problems or challenges that may arise.
There are some things that I’ll get correct. Many things that I’ll get wrong. There is also a tone in my messages that (hopefully) suggests that we’re figuring this out together. They provide fertile ground for new ideas, and new innovations.
These trials and tribulations, a documentation of your hits and misses along with the thinking behind it might be of use to someone else. This is great for your identity and verification of claims made.
You have the opportunity to take notes about how human you really are.