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Thomas Brucia

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Spreading ideas.... is it important? To who? And if an idea dies stillborn?

TEDS describes itself: "Our mission: Spreading ideas." Then the mission statement says, "We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world."

What about ideas that do not change attitudes, lives and ultimately the world? What about ideas one keeps inside one's head, prized though they'll never change anyone's attitudes or lives? And what about ideas that are not designed to change the world?

How does one decide when the time is ripe to let an idea out of one's head to see if it will spread?

Is an idea still valuable if it fails to spread?

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  • Jan 15 2012: Well I don't think you need to take the phrasing too literally.
    TED speakers tend to encompass a number of subjects and ideas that don't necessarily apply to the entire global audience or field of work. But that being said, consider a rock being thrown into a pool --The ripples eventually extend all the way to the far edges; So its possible that even a micro-idea for one specific purpose can inadvertantly bring forth other ideas in other people and so on.
    Even if its not the original idea itself, a good idea can spread both directly and indirectly.

    'What about ideas one keeps inside one's head, prized though they'll never change anyone's attitudes or lives? '
    Well look at it this way: Theoretically everyones ideas can be correct no matter how far out they may be, but if they are never discussed, scrutinized or tested, then how can you be sure they are actually as valuble as you personally consider?

    'How does one decide when the time is ripe to let an idea out of one's head to see if it will spread?'
    Typically when the opportunity arises or when you have the resources (money, time, energy) to do so.

    'Is an idea still valuable if it fails to spread?'
    Not necessarily, but it depends on the situation.
    Sometimes the marketing fails the idea, sometimes people aren't quite ready to accept it and ofcourse sometimes good ideas don't go anywhere with no immediately observable cause.
    Trial and Error.
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    Jan 16 2012: I mostly agree with Xavier's response,

    While I think it's true that Ideas can change the world (plenty of evidence for that), It does make me think of the "idea funnel"
    The idea funnel says that about 1 idea in 3000 can lead to a good product/start-up/service...
    Maybe the number is fictional, but it says something...
    I think TED does a good selection on "good" ideas, and a lot of them will still not work out or are maybe completely wrong... still, if the number goes down to even 1 in 30... it is a big improvement...

    And if some ideas fail to spread or die out... that's quite normal. But it is no reason to stop spreading ideas.