Thursday, May 01, 2014

My ideas perspective

Years go I was waiting on a Muni bus while living in San Francisco, and when it came it was full to the gills is the expression. But right behind it--schedule was massively wacky and screwed up that day--was another bus which was mostly empty. I got on the second bus.

And I thought to myself: what if there were weight sensors on the bus, which could tell when a bus was very full and tweet out that it was and maybe even tell you the next bus was nearly empty?

Now then that was years ago and if I wanted to push that idea I might find some people with skills to figure out a product. We could have pursued patents, and then started looking for funding and maybe investors. Over time we might have approached municipalities with our system, and tried to convince them to try it.

And I had no freaking interest in doing any of those things! I was just some guy with some idle thoughts while riding along on the bus.

But should I just toss the idea then? My answer is, no.

Instead I tweeted it, and maybe could find that tweet. I was typing that sentence and then did just that:

Wow this embedding tweets is powerful, glad Twitter gave the capability as I wasn't sure myself when that happened.

Now then, what if someone else took my idea and ran with it and made a massive company from it, what would I get? Appropriately, no money, as it's a free idea and what really have I done compared to the massive effort necessary to actually implement such a system? Nothing. So no money from someone who does do that massive work IS appropriate. Besides I like to give away free ideas.

So what do I get out of it?

Well, consider someday I'm in San Francisco waiting on a bus, and I'm checking my Twitter and the bus tweets.

Let's call it--the 10 am Muni #108.

And 10 am Muni #108 says: Bus is full, but followed by 10:15 am Muni #108 which is half empty. Thank you for riding Muni!

I would get at least a momentary twinge of pleasure and look around wondering if anybody knew I had that idea years ago. But more importantly, I'd wait for the next bus and calmly watch as the 10 am came and went.

I have a functional perspective.

Besides, putting ideas out in this way also gives the possibility that then people just might get curious to come see where that idea was put out publicly, and if it traveled the world I might have people from all over the world come to this blog post to see that idea put out there.

And that attention could have value.

So there, possibly a better explanation for why I just throw up so many ideas on my blogs! If I were pursuing any one of some of them then I could be knee-deep into all kinds of things that don't interest me, like talking with lawyers.

The web has I think shifted the dynamics of ideas where people like me, can see an advantage in putting out an idea versus sitting on it, or trying to actually implement it.

That dynamic intrigues me.

James Harris
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