Ways of seeing new ideas

John Berger’s ‘Ways of Seeing’ is an influential guide on what to look for when viewing art aimed at the art novice. He explained how to appreciate art to an audience who have very little knowledge of the history of art. In it, Berger offered many examples to demonstrate how to ‘see’ a work of art through the lens of the artist, the historical significance, and the traditions of the time among other things that could provide context. This eye opening book paved the way for other guides on the significance of visual culture, from modern art to selfies.

Moving from visual culture to information in general, could an equivalent guide for viewing new ideas?

A way of seeing or recognizing useful knowledge hidden among all the noise we experience from information overload? It would be a sought after skill for any creative or business person and maybe one day could be emulated by machines.

A possible guide for ‘ways of recognizing new ideas’:

  • Identify fact vs fiction because sometimes it’s easy to be fooled into believing a strong hypothesis when it’s still theory. Read at least 5 different types of articles on the same topic to compare i.e. a mix of old and recent news, research papers and opinions
  • Distilling the key point – how easy is it to summarize into a few sentences? This can be a quick test of an idea, see if it can be pitched and what reaction is received. If it leads to more questions, it’s a good signal the idea is new.
  • Look out for combination of different ideas into something new. A good idea sometimes takes a concept from one field and applies it to another field.

What other guidelines could there be?

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