The Best Ideas
As Seth Godin says, “Ideas that spread, win.” So how do you prime your ideas so that they spread easily? There is no science to it but I believe the Internet culture provides us with some clues.
Ideas That Spread Are…
Free – There are no barriers to adoption. Ideas that win are easily accessible, sharable, and linkable. There are no pay-walls, prices, or other economic barriers to prevent others from adopting them. The best ideas are accessible on an array of platforms with different flavors and perspectives in order to give a well rounded presentation of the concept. They are universal truths that speak to the soul of the human character. These ideas have a viral quality about them built into the fabric of its architecture. The best ideas travel fast across physical and digital barriers. In truth, no one “owns” an idea, it’s best to treat them so.
Open – The ideas that win today embrace the Internet’s remix culture. They are filed under the Creative Commons copyright and are encouraged to be dissected, broken, built upon, and changed. These ideas are platforms where others launch their own ideas off of. Others tinker with the idea in order to grow it, cultivate and unlock hidden potential within them. They are vulnerable, transparent, and public. The best ideas have nothing to hide and they serve the community by adding to the human body of experience. The more people feed the idea, the better it gets.
It’s About Building Culture
The best ideas are primed for collision. They are hunches that collide with other half-baked ideas resulting in breakthroughs. These ideas are revolutionary, disruptive in nature, and disorient. As Steven Johnson says, “an idea is a network.” It is a sum of many smaller ideas that have come to build a much larger, meta idea. Each of these ideas carry a cultural and symbolic significance, the blueprints of its creation built into the idea’s DNA. As we dissect the human genome in order to know more about ourselves and more broadly mankind, we should do the same with great ideas. It is through this idea network that we can trace the idea’s origin; its spark of inspiration still glowing bright, ready to birth new concepts.
Great ideas are about connecting, not protecting. They are more interested in growing than building up walls for exclusivity. In a world where we fight for people’s attention, why make it harder for them to listen? Great ideas gravitate towards “receptive” hunches. Your ideas should not only be looking for its complementary hunch, it should be receptive to receiving them as well; constantly pushing and pulling for the idea’s better half. So let us pool our hunches together. Johnson says, “chance favors the connected mind.” It is time that we all connect and collide in true Internet fashion.
How does this “blueprint” for idea connectivity compare our current patent system? Are we reaping short term gains while hindering our long term, innovative growth? It often appears that way. One should be so lucky that someone takes your idea, spreads it, and strengthens it. They are doing the important work for you at a higher recommendation value. In true social media viral-ness, the trail will ultimately lead back to you. Set your ideas free because “when failure is not an option, neither is innovation.” It is time we open up.
I often like to think of things in terms of analogies. So here’s one that helps me put things into perspective. If links are the soul the Internet and our online reputation is the currency then ideas must be the capital/equity we use in this new cultural environment. I like to think that the product of these free and open ideas would be the foundation of a movement; the beginning of a new culture. Aren’t we, in the 21st century, in the business of selling culture anyways? Let’s have the courage and vulnerability to set our ideas free.