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To what extent can an idea be unique?

Are all ideas just the combination of known principles or trial and error? Examples and peronal experiences are good as well as just opinions. This question could be expanded to any thought at all, not just ideas. If there is a thought that is almost entirely unique, there can't be any previous oppposite idea. What I mean is if an idea is the exact opposite of another it isn't really original. It just stated the opposite. If an entirely original idea can be made, how will it be formed?

I have some opinions currently, but I'm sure they'll change after your comments. Please ask me to expand or clarify if needed.

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  • Aug 8 2013: My thoughts… how important is it to be "unique?" Think about how often inventions actually occur simultaneously and independently. Each inventor thought their invention was unique, and they were correct... based on what they knew at the time. Should the inventors still be proud of their inventions? Did they still meet expectations? The answer is probably “Yes!”

    As “ideators,” if our goals are to be novel, first, fresh, proud, or other internally-focused goals, then being unique is significant. However, if our goals are to provide better solutions, innovative results, and collaborative development, then we can be more effective since we are externally-focused and we give less significance to being unique.

    Additionally, as we evolve to products-of-one with 3-D printing, for example, being unique becomes more of a commodity and important at the consumer-level. However, if we are becoming exponential and less linear in technology growth, the faster we’ll be able to innovate. As that accelerated pace continues, being unique becomes less likely.

    So do we need to be unique? As consumers, we will be more unique as we move toward products-of-one. As innovators, we become less unique by sharing development with others. In both cases, we are winners.

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