Ideas flow in a current, disappearing under the surface and then reappearing with changes in time and place. If we had been there earlier to see them upstream, we would have recognized a good idea and would have quickly pulled it out of the flotsam. Time helps us to slowly comprehend the opportunity within an idea, and in that way, experience thus creates good fortune. We’ll know it when we see it, and we’ll see it as long as we are looking for it.
Other times, an idea that may have been drifting along for quite awhile pops up, and because we’ve never seen it, it is novel and exciting in a different way. We haven’t considered that idea before, making the opportunities within it as limitless as our mind can muster. We probably don’t even understand it, but we’ll take a chance on a new idea until it reveals its potential with study.
Both new ideas and old ideas can, of course, be the same ideas, just seen from different perspectives. Sometimes, I hear jaded comments from a colleague who “has seen that before,” but I am quick to argue that an old idea can come to fruition with new insight and technology. It is also just fine if new ideas are simply old ideas seen from a new perspective. Shaking up our worldview by changing our vantage point is how those old ideas can become useful again.
We may have made up our own minds about that idea we saw float by years or decades ago, but we should always remain open to how it is seen by others. In a recent prosthetics conference, I was reminded of this when an exciting new methodology was reported that was an undistorted reflection of something I had published 25 years ago. Seeing that idea again through another author’s perspective made me appreciate it anew. This is why it is important for journals like JPO to encourage authors to share their perspectives with readers. Even if some of the topics seem old to some of us, we should reconsider new viewpoints to keep our profession and ourselves renewed.
David A. Boone, CP, MPH, PhD
Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics