“Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ‘crackpot’ than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.”
-Thomas J. Watson
Who owns ideas? When we conceptualize something new (to us) and we express it out in the wild through media or even tell it to a friend, can we maintain control of it? Can we say “Here is my concept. You can express it to others but you cannot take it further and you can not apply it in ways that I don’t like?” How realistic would that be? Characters, stories and songs can be copyrighted but ideas tend to take on a life of their own. They take root in our imaginations and branch off in all kinds of ways. We find new applications for these ideas far beyond anything that their originator could ever have imagined. Could Alexander Graham Bell foresee the iPhone? Could our ancestors who made the first wheels have imagined a Cobra Convertible or a Race Car or rocket ship? I would say probably not. It was a process of a long chain of originators each of whom took the ideas further. Yet it seems that on occasion, people want their ideas only developed in the ways that they can accept. Recently in a social media group that I belong to, a man who did much work in developing the concepts of Spiral Dynamics took issue to someone applying SD’s memes in a sexual context. He said that he believed that it was “unsavoury” to do so and that Spiral Dynamics was a protected trademark and could not be used in this way. Yet isn’t part of the SD concept a look at how we individuals interact within society? Does he feel that the ideas belong behind a fence? Can ideas survive locked in captivity or do they need to grow and expand in order to survive? I appreciate the response because of the questions it raised for me.
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