topic: being unaware of prior art and creating your own anyway within the context of that vague suspicious unawareness? that could be interesting, or at least apologetic.
what is the value of independent discovery? aside from being galling, it’s also sort of validating. gotta think that one day you’ll get to one of these things first. But having foundation and specialized knowledge is so important in doing so! ah… time.
What is the value of independent discovery? What I’m talking about is that time when you had an excellent idea (for a piece of art, or an as-seen-on-TV invention, or a tech startup) and even started to do some work to develop it only to find before long that it’s already been done. It’s frustrating at best and demoralizing at worst. But is it also validating? And is it fair for you - or an outside observer - to consider your independent discovery as valued as the original?
related: imagine living a clean slate existence in a cabin in the woods, writing, painting, ideating completely from first principles. all your experience contribute influence, though: the cabin: the fact that it has wood plank floors made of trees (which you can experience outside the window) has so many implications; cutting, straight lines, levelness, “inside” vs “outside”, etc.
For the later point I think the obvious answer is ‘Yes’. Your mere conception of the idea is as valuable as the original creator’s mere conception - but if you’ve stopped there then that’s likewise far as the value travels.
Most work, however, requires additional input beyond mere conception (let’s use the term work for anything from fine art to tech startups … and since that’s likely an entirely accepted and normal use for the term work this whole parenthetical is likely redundant!). Most work is less like a baby snake: off and slithering away to hunt at birth, and more like a baby human: utterly useless sack of flesh unless dotingly nurtured for decades.
write about how it’s an encouraging pat on the back to realize you’ve had the same original idea as Edison.
write about how frustrating it is that one of your limited great ideas is “taken”
hope - or: A case for specialization
write about the encouraging thing from above, added to it: the idea that you do have good ideas and you’re not even that great any anything! so imagine if you were great at something… there’s no reason to believe your good-idea-generation would all of a sudden stop. So take your track record for invention and add years of experience and skill-honing and you’ve got a recipe for success.
Additionally: specialization. once you’re highly knowledgeable in a field, your “good ideas” will be better. On top of that, you’ll finally be able to develop these “mere ideas” into something real (remember the
value paragraph above?). You’re now one of the people who take their ideas places that you were being demoralized by earlier in this writing.
Bonus points: You’re advancing the state of the art. newcomers to the idea-generating game now either need to:
- come up with new lateral ideas in your field
- vertically advance an existing idea (yours, say)
- create new fields within which new ideas can grow
This post will also function as an exculpation for myself later on. I’ll inevitably write about something I have little knowledge in (SEE: the objective meaning post) but all the same want to go on and on about. I can link back here like “all the usual caveats about prior art apply here, given my lack of specialized education about this area”.