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.

The Network

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.


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8 responses to “The Best Ideas”

  1. Thom Holland says :

    Hey Dan

    Two things you may really enjoy learning more about:

    1) “Innovation management”
    2) Geoffrey Moore’s book, “Crossing the chasm”

    Thanks for the interesting read.

    – Thom

  2. Franziska San Pedro says :

    Hi Dan,

    nobody owns an idea. When I have an idea, I know I have it from somewhere else, maybe an extended version from experience, from something I have seen or heard, fantasy, imagination, etc. Even fantasy and imagination isn’t mine. I don’t want to say that I am a puppet of the gods but I know that everything has a source. And it needs to be passed along otherwise it’s useless.
    And then I share those ideas and soon I have a better idea and I share it again and.. And then have this idea executed by two people: two results (and more ideas), many people: many results and many more ideas and improvement!

    I like this idea to think about ideas, gives me more ideas.
    I think I said something like this before (I am sooo quotable :-) )

    Will have to check out Thom’s recommendations! Btw, I love your artwork to the right, gotta check those out too, real cool,

    Franziska San Pedro
    The Abstract Impressionist Artress

    • Dan Fonseca says :

      Hey Franziska! Hope your trip went well. There are just so many ideas flying throughout our space waiting to grow. What I am really trying to do is liberate them and let them be acted upon. I hate seeing rules and bureaucracy stifle creativity. I have seen too much of it already… Thanks for checking in!


      • Franziska San Pedro says :

        Yes, me too! And it drives me crazy when I see all this brainwashing and the lack of energy in so many people. It feels like they are giving in and giving up, following a system without questioning anything. Where is the young generation?!? Where are the rebels, the mavericks, the geniuses??

        (These days, I am actually very happy to see people in the streets here in the US protesting. Finally!)
        And then there was Steve Jobs… Maybe more people will get his message not to live someone else’s life and be creative. Ok, I might sound a little like I am all over the place but there is definitely a connection between all of what I have mentioned.
        And I remember what my Dad said when I was a teenager: “when I was your age, I was like you, rebellious, but that will calm down”. Now, I am 34 and nothing has calmed down and I am not planning to retire and give in.

        Another long comment…
        Franziska xx

        (trip was awesome: CA-OR-WA, beautiful!)

        • Dan Fonseca says :

          This conversation could be the basis for another post entirely. I really think the democratization of information and the subsequent shift in power dynamics that the internet has allowed will defiantly change actions and attitudes in the population. I pray that the young feel the same way as you just mentioned. The recent protests I believe are a wake up call. The leaderless, manifestation of the 99% will continue to grab people’s attention. However, I fear that with the onslaught of information overload, many will decide to simply bury their heads. After all ignorance is bliss… That is why I believe it is the artists’ “artistic duty” to wake people up! Disorient them and show them what is around them. The problem is that the system which is built strong is against that sort of thing. Why wouldn’t those in power do everything they can to hold on to it? It’s technology, like the internet, disruptive in nature, that will be our greatest tool for physical action. We must use the our digital and physical means to wake the people up.

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