Idea tourism

It's possible for a tourist to visit Times Square in New York City, see nothing new or unexpected, and leave the city unchanged.

Same with the Eiffel Tower in Paris or a shopping mall in Dubai. Tourism doesn't always open your mind, but when it works the way it supposed to, it sure does.

Which brings us to the notion of idea tourism.

It's possible to do a drive-by of some of the big ideas of science or politics or technology and see only what you want to see. I don't think there's a lot of point in that. If you want to truly understand Darwin, then go to a lab and do some experiments. If you want to understand a gun lover, go to a shooting range for an afternoon. If you want to see how social networking will actually change the way ideas spread, go use it. Intensely, and with a purpose in mind.

Only when we try the idea on for size and actually use it do we understand it. With more ideas offering visitation rights than ever before, learning how to empathize with an idea is critical.