‘Observe the world, then tell the truth about what you see’ (Stephen King. Kind of.)
The infamous ‘Blue Marble’ shot is thought to be the most reproduced photo in history.
Taken in 1972, it was the first photograph taken of the whole round Earth and the only one ever snapped by a human being.
But the true camera image is upside-down by earthly standards, showing the South Pole at the top of the globe, because the camera was held by a weightless man who didn’t know down from up. In space, the idea of ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ makes little sense.
Yet when Nasa first published the photo, they were worried about confusing people, so inverted it to align with our expectations and fit with our existing perceptions.
A nice reminder that we all see the world from where we stand, our perspectives shaped by the beliefs that have been handed down to us, and the people and places that are closest to us.
But of course, there are plenty of ways we can challenge our biases, and try to see the world from different perspectives.
In 1907, Dr Julius Neubonner submitted a patent application for a new invention: the pigeon camera.
Originally, he’d planned to use the device to keep track of his own prescription-delivering flock. But his invention was also a huge breakthrough in how we see our world.
The images his pigeons captured (admittedly at strange angles and with feathers covering the lens), were among the very first photos of the Earth from above.
As Steven Johnson says, ‘the trick to having good ideas is not to sit around in glorious isolation, but to get more parts on the table’.
In other words, asking questions, challenging perceptions, and immersing in new perspectives will probably reveal annoyingly inconvenient truths.
But it will also lead to genuinely valuable insights, to help you understand your customers, understand yourself, or understand the world we all live in a bit better.
If you enjoy what you read here, I’d love you to subscribe to my blog to get new thoughts sent to you on an infrequent basis.