The variables between then and now

I have a list for everything. There are the to-do lists, of course, which I can never seem to consolidate in one place. My upcoming tasks land alternately in the cloud and on paper, on post-its, calendars, and notebooks, virtual and tactile. I check them all obsessively.

There are the grocery lists, stuffed into pockets and forgotten, so that each new milk run is like starting from scratch. There are the historical lists, of books I’ve read and loved and places I’ve been. There are the future lists, of grand plans and wishes, and the present lists, too, of all I’m juggling and wondering and worrying about now.

The more imaginative lists are especially fun to create and collect, but I love the mundane lists for their archival value. A grocery list from three years ago would reveal my early dependence on frozen veggie burgers; a more recent list offers evidence of the addition of a small but hungry dog and a husband with an adventurous palate. A list of library call numbers is a coded recipe for a paper I once wrote, and a list of Spanish vocabulary words shows me how much I once learned and how much I’ve forgotten since then.

There must be a more responsible system for keeping track my beloved lists, but for now, I think I’ll just keep letting them disperse and turn up unexpectedly later. Each one, lost and then found, is like a brief time capsule—a chance to account for all the constants and all the variables between then and now. — Lisa


Last week's dispatch asked, If you could teach any class, what would be the topic and title? The responses were amazing. Imagine a year at Uncommon U: "Philosophy of Quality", "The Science of Badass", "Take Back Your Brain", "Team Matters", "Systems, Self, and Society", "Urban Geography for Those Non-Focused", "Finding Yourself", "Disruptive Innovation", "Focus, Education, and Consciousness in the Information Technology Age", and "Entrepreneurship + Creativity".

Maegan wrote:

I actually keep a list of classes I would teach, someday, if the opportunity ever arose. One of them is called The History of the Future and is a multi-disciplinary look at how people of the past imagined the future. What technologies did they imagine? How did their circumstances (war, prosperity, revolution) impact their vision of the future? What ultimately came to pass and what didn't?<br><br>I love the idea for many reasons, from my passion for science-fiction to my previous study of cultural history. But the biggest reason is that this idea bridges a gap between history and today. It gives us insight on the imaginations of the people of the past, which is captivating to me.

Brad wrote:

Philosophy of Quality<br>A deep dive into the human practice and conception of quality as it intersects with literature, art, craftsmanship, law, institutions, social relationships and cognitive boundaries; past, present and future.

Kathy wrote:

I have three (actually twenty, but these will do) and I'd teach them all for free of course :)<br><br>The Science of Badass: how to become really f'n amazing at that thing everyone said you had no talent for<br><br>Take Back Your Brain: marketers, politicians, and other persuaders are exploiting known vulnerabilities in our "legacy brains" to go way past "nudging". Build a brain "firewall" to live a more vibrant and autonomous life.<br><br>How to write a non-fiction bestseller without marketing tricks, gaming Amazon, or selling your soul in social media.

Joel wrote:

Team Matters<br>Topic: GTD via groups<br>Texts: Sports Night, The West Wing: seasons 1-4

Julie wrote:

I'm pretty sure this is cheating, since I once was a teacher and my dream class would be an amalgamation of three classes I did teach three or four years ago: "Rhetorics of Information", "Digital Diversity", and "Language, Texts, Technology".  I'd call it Systems, Self, and Society and it would focus on how language and texts have never worked in isolation from each other, and how our sense of self and society have always been and continue to be shaped by networks of information.  I could also just subtitle it "All this has happened before, and all of it will happen again" and make the students watch and discuss all four seasons of Battlestar Galactica, but that would be too easy.

Steven wrote:

My class to teach: Urban Geography for Those Non-Focused: An introductory lab in walking without ear buds, looking up and navigating without your smartphone." M-F 8-9am, 12-1pm, and 5-6pm.  Prerequisites: APPL 101, 102. Ironically, Sent from my iPhone

Liz wrote:

Off the top of my head (because if I think about it too much I'll get distracted and never respond!)... If I could teach any class it would be titled something like Finding Yourself; how to be nice to yourself. This week we would focus on influences, how to recognize bad ones and how to bring in more great influences, be that people, arts, good food, etc.

BJ wrote:

If I could teach any class, I might try and integrate Math, Language Arts, Science, Visual Arts and physical activity into one class.. and it would be in an outdoors/natural setting. I'm thinking Gilligan's Island meets Apple Computing. Swiss family Robinson meets Einstein on a bike. I'm thinking about learning physics and chemistry with twine, rocks, and water. Maybe a Shakespearean play complete with backdrops and props to express Sine waves and calculus.

Grant wrote:

A business class: Disruptive Innovation,  but in your life, not your business. A bootcamp class for building the work ethic, creativity, teamwork, grit and character to really make a difference in business.

Matt wrote:

Focus, Education, and Consciousness in the Information Technology Age. A course which examines the changing psychological effects that information technology is having on our consciousness, learning, and focus as humans.

Erin wrote:

If I could teach a class, I would teach a course for college design seniors.<br><br>Art 4240: Entrepreneurship + Creativity<br>Spring Quarter | 3 Credits | Tues, Thurs | 2:00pm - 4:20pm<br><br>An engaging look into the many applications of design in business. In this course we will frequent the "real world," touring design studios, learning the pros and cons of self-employment, the various office environment options (visiting each), and also create and execute a community event for local entrepreneurs.

Uncommon reads

The Archive is a Campsite by Aaron Lammer. This essay resonates with many of my thoughts and hopes for Uncommon.

Focusing on the archive is, at its core, a strategy for creating outstanding new work. Articles considered in the context of their influence over years and decades, instead of minutes and days, must inherently aim higher. While such ambition asks more of both the creator and the consumer, it’s worth it, because it leaves something of value behind.

Unlike - Why I'm Leaving Facebook by Douglas Rushkoff:

In my upcoming book "Present Shock", I chronicle some of what happens when we can no longer manage our many online presences. I argue - as I always have - for engaging with technology as conscious human beings, and dispensing with technologies that take that agency away. Facebook is just such a technology.

Your turn

What would you love to cross off your list?