Alan Kay (sometimes referred to as the father of the PC, object oriented code, and much more) is credited with saying that "point of view is worth 80 IQ points". This is a catchy way of saying that consciously looking at problems and situations from multiple perspectives and constantly looking for new perspectives to solve problems is an extremely powerful technique and skill to develop.
I suspect that you have many examples in your own life, where you've come up with solutions or have been more creative in your problem solving using some version of this idea. This idea of helping others, as well as myself, to discover and utilize new perspectives is a strategy I use in most of my work, and is a primary goal for Off Course - On Target. So with this in mind, let's see if we can get a bit "smarter" by finding and using a few new perspectives.
We humans have a natural tendency to look ahead and down much more than we look up. It was always a successful strategy as a child playing hide and seek to climb up a tree or onto a top shelf in a closet. And anyone unfortunate enough to have spent time in a hospital bed or on a gurney knows how different the world looks from this perspective and how little attention is paid to ceilings! On the other hand I've noticed that dentists have taken notice and are putting things on the ceilings, such as paintings or televisions, for you to look at while you are reclining in the dentist's chair.
A very recent example of this new perspective of looking up is an exciting new feature in Google Earth called "Sky". This simple, but powerful new feature gives you the ability to choose a location on Earth and then turn the "camera" around to look up and see the sky. This amazing tool lets you see and explore stars, animations of the planets movement, zoom in on fabulous Hubble imagery and more. Here is a short video tour that shows Sky in action:
Based on my brief time with this new feature I see this as fun and functional. How well did your school science courses help YOU understand the spatial relationships of the moon, earth, sun, and stars? How well can you point out the different stars and constellations in the night sky to your children or others, explaining why they change depending on date and your location? Sky sure seems to help me a lot with this.
To continue with your experiential learning, something we are so fond of here at Off Course - On Target, I highly recommend that you download the newest version of Google Earth and take the Sky feature out for a spin. I think you too will find that it offers some serious fun and lots of learning as well.
And while you're up in the Sky, why not fly?
In some recent posts, I emphasized the need to avoid what I've characterized as "flapping", that is, copying experts and models of the past, and instead have urged you to focus on the essential characteristics you are seeking to take off and fly. So it struck me as a nice bit of serendipity to read of the recent discovery of a hidden flight simulator in Google Earth. These secret capabilities, referred to as "Easter eggs" are a favorite of some application developers.
Adding motion is a great way to gain a new perspective, so strap yourself into one of the two airplane options, an F16 Viper and the more manageable SR22 4 seater, and try flying your way over your home region or anyplace else in the world you'd like to see.
To access the hidden feature, open Google Earth and hit Command+Option+A (must be capital A) or Ctrl+Alt+A. Here is a full list of the keyboard controls for the Google Earth flight simulator. Fasten your seatbelt low and tight and welcome aboard!
BTW, as you are flying around see how much the realism that comes from flying over photographic images of the "real" earth and sea starts to address some of the limitations of your experiences with less accurate virtual worlds that we've also mentioned in previous discussions, such as in my posting Virtual Lift Off?
Stars to Sea
Another way to use new perspectives is to find ways to tie two or more of them together. For example, how can the benefits of looking up at the stars, help us when we are down on earth looking out and around us?
Well, consider sailors who venture out into the open ocean and how extremely dependent they become upon knowing their precise location. This, of course, helps us just as much with navigation on land. Many of you have experienced the benefits (and aggravations) of onboard GPS and navigation systems installed in new cars you may own or rent. While modern day technologies, such as GPS and electronic charting, look after navigation with unprecedented ease and extraordinary accuracy, you always want to have a backup or two or three when your life depends upon it! Therefore, the ancient method of celestial navigation is still used as a backup by most who sail the open oceans.
As an aspiring global sailor myself, I'm busy learning as much as I can about this art and science of finding your way by the sun, moon, stars, and planets, and I'm acquiring skills with sextants and the like. You can just imagine how much Google's Sky makes me "smarter" by helping me to learn these new concepts and skills. Besides, I just love the juxtaposition of setting my sextant, an 18th-century technology, down beside my oh-so-very 21st-century latest, greatest, high tech GPS system and digital charting screen.
What examples do you have of using inverted thinking and new perspectives to help you learn more, and be more creative in your thinking and problem solving? Please share your examples through your comments here at Off Course - On Target or in your own postings and I'll continue to do the same.