Free Ideas

I used to love the show Prototype This. It was fun because a team of specialists would work together to take an idea from concept to reality in two weeks. But they only spent about two minutes of show time developing the idea. I prefer to spend two weeks developing the concept and two minutes implementing it. I suppose that two minutes is just enough time to hand it over, if there is a healthy relationship between the developer and implementer of a concept.

I think that there tends to be a lack of mutual respect between the people that come up with ideas (the conceivers) and the people that make them reality (the implementers). Each is quietly grateful for the other, but each tends to think that the other’s job is easy or overrated. The implementer might say, “I can come up with ideas. I’ll just throw ten random thoughts on wall and then see which one sticks. I don’t even need to talk to a flakey idea person.” At the same time, the conceiver might say, “Anyone can do what’s already been done. All you have to do is follow a set of instructions. I’ll just do that and then I don’t even have to talk to a stick-in-the-mud.”

Being a conceiver but having spent the overwhelming majority of my time as an implementer, I recognize the challenge and the value of the contributions from both types. I also recognize the pitfalls that each have a tendency to fall into. That discussion is a long one and I’ll probably make it a Leonardo’s Bridge post at some point in the future. For now, please know just these few things about the concepts that I post here.

1) While I use the title Free Ideas, these are not merely “ideas.”
An idea is the initial state of a concept, unformed, not thoroughly fleshed out or deeply considered. Some are so simple or so interconnected with other well-established concepts, that the concept in simple idea form is enough for an implementer to make use of. Indeed, in my experience, this is what implementers typically devise. These concepts tend to be inevitable but also tend to only be possible due to a tremendous depth of understanding of just one field (to the exclusion of most others).

2) What I am posting are “concepts.”
I’ve never really liked the “Free Idea” idea. It implies that ideas have little or no intrinsic value. It’s become a business model for a few online activities. You just post your idea somewhere and hope that someone picks yours out of hundreds or thousands of others. I prefer to make the distinction clear between the random thoughts thrown up and the kinds of things that I produce. Ideas are the former; concepts are the latter.
These concepts are not the result of two minutes of consideration and no research. They are the result of months and often years of thinking, reading, talking, and understanding. This is, surprisingly, more true of the simplest ideas. They tend to exist at the overlap of several different fields and touch on different levels of knowledge in those fields. They are fleshed out with most or all of the hardest questions answered (as I enjoy the process of figuring out the answers to those questions). This process is never complete, even when they have come to exist, which brings us to the last point.

3) Some key part of ALL of the posted concepts have been developed.
These concepts were developed independently many months and (more often) years after my work on them. I make no claim to them, as I have never implemented them (Picking up on a theme yet?). While it can be frustrating, I also receive some satisfaction in knowing that the concept actually worked. I always retain a healthy dose of skepticism about my own work on the chance that I might discover a flaw.

I like pretty pictures. These concepts come with diagrams, variants, and the concepts to which they are related. I offer them in their entirety on the chance that the concept, clearly not thought out to the level that I have taken it, might realize its full potential. Yes, I do treat them like my babies. I put a lot into them. I try very hard not to overwhelm the reader with lots of unnecessary detail, but by all means ask if you have any questions. Well, go on. Ask me.

Past Free Ideas
The Black Donut Returns
Earthen Habitats
The Black Donut
The Layman’s Summary
PPC: True Touchable 3D

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