Travelling with ideas

July 27th, 2006 by Hugh

“Just remember that your ideas last longer than people or things. Your ideas will go further if you don’t insist on going with them.” From Start Up, A Silicon Valley Adventure, by Jerry Kaplan.

My first thought when reading this sentence is that most historic ideas are associated strongly with names: Plato… Newton… Marks …Darwin.. Freud… Einstein… Keynes, and that this linkage has never stopped those thinkers having followers and disciples who develop the idea further. But of course, the famous thinkers in this list were academic types who worked alone for the most part.

I can see that within a company there can be a desire for an idea to not belong to one person, but to take on a life of its own, and to grow and develop among those that work there, and be transformed, perhaps, into something rather different. I know that Exbiblio is in this latter camp.

Jerry Kaplan’s idea, by the way, was for a hand-held computer with a pen instead of a keyboard. He came up with the idea when he watched Mitchell Kapor, the founder of Lotus, get frustrated while his laptop powered up so he could take notes and organise his thoughts. But Kaplan’s invention was before its time, and his company ended up being liquidated in 1994, chair by chair, at an auction.

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