Seth Godin wrote a good post about ideas, and how much time and energy is spent fruitlessly protecting them. I can’t help but wonder if he’s gotten a C&D letter recently 😉
It’s amazing to me that there are people who, in the context of their own idea, perceive that the idea itself is worth something (usually quite a lot). But in the context of an idea you wish them to buy, the idea is worthless without any development.
I think the psychology of idea value is fascinating. I know, intellectually, that even my best ideas would be impossible to sell until I’ve developed them, but that doesn’t keep me from feeling this wave of protective paranoia when I get a really good one 😎
Our own inspiration seems like a gift, other’s inspiration seems like luck.
I’m not sure I agree with the part about building a reputation as someone who comes up with great ideas by giving them away, however. Most people who aren’t good at coming up with ideas think they need only one good idea, so there doesn’t seem to be much market for folks with lots of ideas.
I think it’s better to focus on developing ideas than the ideas themselves. They have a short shelf-life.