On Twitter this week, Natasha Wescoat stated “Recently, I had told someone my creative biz ideas & each time got the reply, “That’s stupid”. How’d I get this far on my ideas then? Fools.” and I replied “There’s no such thing as a stupid idea, but it is possible to have a stupid implementation.” Even the most basic of concepts needs to come from the seed of an idea, no matter how insane or stupid an idea is to begin with.
An idea like jumping off a bridge or out of a moving vehicle may not appear to be very good, but as it is given time to gestate, it may progress beyond the point of stupidity. By tying an elastic cord to a person’s feet before they jump off a bridge, they can feel the wind rush by them as the ground quickly approaches, only to be snapped back before fatal impact. Extreme sports like bungee jumping and sky diving take those stupid, suicidal ideas and give them new life as popular activities.
There are plenty of good ideas out there that have been ruined by implementation. In this modern era, everyone carries a cell phone. Additionally, handheld gaming has been very popular, and as the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP were on the verge of coming out, Nokia decided to attempt to merge their phones with gaming. With the popularity of both types of devices, the concept was quite sound, unfortunately what they came out with wasn’t. Nokia released the N-Gage in 2003 to the great dismay of consumers everywhere. The system had a small screen, bad graphics, poor game selection, the battery had to be removed to change games, and the N-Gage had to be held on its side to be spoken on. The N-Gage failed so badly that it was mostly known for the jokes about how you uncomfortably held the phone, known as side talking.
The cell phone and gaming platform was a solid idea and was successfully revisited years later, but only after Nokia failed at it twice with their N-Gage and the Gizmondo failed as well at merging games with communication. Apple focused on creating their iPhone as a portable computational platform and a phone. Once they opened their app store, developers were able to access a phone with a touch screen, OpenGL graphics, and a large screen. People were already carrying this slim phone in their pockets, and the ability to purchase games fairly cheaply and have them delivered via the phone made their foray a success.
In Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, the two lead characters play a game of tennis that does not involve a ball. The paraphernalia of the game are replaced by questions. This became a game I regularly played in college with friends when we brainstorming new ideas or trying to further existing ones. By only being able to ask questions at one another, an idea could be gestated and forwarded by questioning the concepts and validity of ideas, building on each others’ ideas and bringing them further to a point of strong implementation.
The ability to take existing ideas and build on them can also lead to greater ideas. A single welfare mother in Edinburgh spent her time at a local cafe writing a story based on existing mythological creatures and magical concepts. By spinning her own ideas into those that were hundreds of years old, J.K. Rowling was able to create Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which led to her writing seven books in the Harry Potter series and becoming one of the richest people in the world.
Ideas themselves are never innately stupid, what matters is what you do with them. It doesn’t matter it’s something as small building a website or as silly as creating videos with a puppet, take those silly, stupid ideas and gestate them. Find the essence of the idea that you can work on, build on, and create with. Ideas are the raw materials of greatness and to dismiss any of them is to deny yourself the ability to reach great heights.