Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Michael Bissell's Blog

The Value of Ideas

2011-02-26 12:37:30
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I live in a world of ideas. It's rare that I produce something that's not recorded to a hard drive, or that I handle a physical product. My entertainments are usually delivered on a screen, ranging from the big silver screen to the little mobile screen, and even the rare times I read a book or magazine that's been printed on paper, it's not the medium that I'm interested in, it's the ideas.

So, yes, I see the value of ideas, but ironically, I have a real problem with the, ahem, idea of owning an idea. I own the storage of the idea, I own the maintenance of the idea, but the idea itself? It may cost me an opportunity, but really, it costs me nothing directly if you use my idea.

I come up with three brilliant ideas before breakfast some days, but running with that idea and creating something of value out of that idea takes other ideas. The printing press wasn't Gutenberg's idea alone, he just got there first. The light bulb wasn't Edison's. The Internet wasn't Gore's (and, he never really claimed that it was, either).

Ideas are powerful things, but the power of an idea is in it being shared. "Ownership" implies control, and control implies stifling the idea. And stifling an idea doesn't imply creating new ideas.

But business is all about monetization. And here lies my schizophrenia. I want to control the ideas that I come up with, and I want to be rewarded for those ideas, but copyright and intellectual property laws aside, if you're a dreamer (even a somewhat skilled, vivid dreamer like me) how do you put value on a dream?

What bothers me is the over inflation of either side of the equation -- if I come up with something really inspiring, and something new and wonderful (and profitable) arises from that idea, then my idea has value.

But, in the world of patents and copyright infringement, companies are sucked dry and destroyed on the premise that having the idea alone is the same thing as building the business, creating customers, and generating revenue. Actually, I think the argument is that the business execution is somehow less valuable than the idea itself.

In the world of intellectual property, the idea has taken center stage -- there was a time that the craft itself took center stage. I truly believe there is a balance, but when you consider how unoriginal most ideas are, how little effort goes into securing the rights to the idea, and the complexities of really fleshing an idea out and creating something, it makes me wonder if someone can come up with an idea for a better way to value ideas.

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Jane Blue: Re: The Value of Ideas
2011-02-26 13:22:11

I think there is far too much interest in copyrighting everything. (Do you think Paul Simon will sue you for paraphrasing the first line of Boy In the Bubble in your previous blog? I see you carefully paraphrased and didn't quote.)

Michael Bissell: Re: The Value of Ideas
2011-02-26 13:22:31

I didn't quote directly in part because I started writing it as a fresh idea, but then realized that I was kind of quoting Paul Simon. Then I couldn't remember the quote very well, and then I figured, eh, close enough.

But, if you accept my idea that ideas are alive, then paraphrasing or even misquoting is just the living manifestation of an idea.

However, if Paul Simon (or more likely some executive at a recording company) wants to sue me, I'm sure I'd have an idea or two for how to respond. And they wouldn't be pretty ideas....

Jane Blue: Re: The Value of Ideas
2011-02-26 13:23:02

I don't think he would. I just love that song! I don't think you can sue for paraphrasing, or even for such a short quote. I do accept your idea that ideas are alive. Emily Dickinson took from all sorts of sources without any citation, and made great poems

Bruce Dickson: Re: The Value of Ideas
2011-02-27 09:45:18

Have always had a problem with copyright ... very disdainful of it in many respects, yet I do respect an artist's desire to make a living.

Often the real question though is how much of a living ... and this is where your quandary over the true value of an idea or a talent or a skill really starts to come into play.

Creativity and inventiveness without entrepreneurialism and business and marketing/selling skills never goes far and all that far ... you need both to be brought together in some productive way and both should be valued for their complementary contributions.

And in saying that, at the monetary both also need each other badly. However I can't help but suspect that beyond selling 'non creative' essentials to people, like a power or energy supply, food or similar basic 'essential', the business side cannot achieve as big results as possible without the core creativity component existing.

Is it the smaller and more powerful chip or system alone that is selling the Apple products, or the design and other conceptual/usage/application components plus the marketed sexiness and self identification and peer image issues?

I also don't think it is an issue of whether any original ideas still exist ... I think that many still do ... but more importantly it is the ideas of how to reinvent or re- apply or re-manifest older ideas that is where the value of the 'idea' often sits these days.

In the same way, that there is a bigger value and contribution to be made by the relatively rare act of synthesizing and simplifiying (but without destroying or losing the essence) important information and ideas - to make them more accessible and in effect more impactful on the wider world.

Something of even greater relevance and significance these days given the overwhelming avalanche of ideas, books, sites and new works and concepts being developed and released in often socially inaccessible forms each day. They synthesizers also have the task and challenge of helping sort the wheat from the chaff as often the originators also fail to do this in their efforts to make the grand statement and supposedly justify themselves and their works to their academic and other peers!

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