The Curse of Ideas, the Delusion of Spherical Earth

Table of Contents
  1. 1. The Habit
  2. 2. The Pain
  3. 3. The Delusion of Spherical Earth
  4. 4. Then What? How Can We Get to Work?
    1. 4.1. Bonus: One Business Idea

In this blog post, I want to talk about one my habits which is useful when I am intriguing other people. However, having a bunch of interesting ideas is painful (at least for me); especially when I do not implement them. The person who inspired me to write this post, was a flat-earth believer and that’s why I chose this title. ّI have to note that this post is about my personal experience and cannot be generalized to everybody.

The Habit

Since 9 years ago, when I was a high-school student, I used a notebook to write my ideas there. During these 9 years, almost everyday, I carried the notebook in my bag and wrote anything interesting coming to my mind. By the time of writing this note, it has 50+ ideas. Although the first ideas are ridiculous, the latter ones seem more promising. Maybe, writing them by itself was an improvement factor.
Additionally, one of the things I do is to spend at least 2 hours a week for random study in my field, Software Engineering. Sometimes, I watch some technical presentations or demos, sometimes I read some blog posts, sometimes I listen to podcasts, and sometimes I read tweets of people who inspire me.
Clearly, it is a good habit to have. It enables me to intrigue other people and sometimes, some people have approached me to know some of the ideas I have found; besides that, as I live in US, people in my home country ask about the trends in US and what I have inspired from US atmosphere.
However, my intent for writing this post is not how to come up with a startup idea (if this is your question, you may find this post by Paul Graham useful).

The Pain

The pain is that you do not have time to implement them. More specifically, you will come up with a set of pretexts (like you do not have time as I said) to justify it. Talk is not only cheap, it can be painful too. It becomes worse when you value your ideas and even worse when you keep them secret. When you see other people implement it, you will realize how nonsense your pretexts were. There is an idiom in English culture which states that when you are thinking about something, someone else is thinking about it at the same time.
Let me be specific. I knew that since Github does not have any captcha for the registration process, and since it is possible to sign up for Travis-CI with Github OAuth API, it is possible to write some worms to run a code remotely (e.g. denial of service attack, mining cryptocurrency, etc.). I had the idea for 1 year before I implement it. That was painful. Finally, I did it, (although Github guys said it is an “abuse” after I reported the problem with my codes to attack and 6 possible solutions) and I felt good for about 2 weeks that I implemented one of the ideas of my own.
On the other hand, I have faced some people coming to me and saying “you have stolen my idea” (in those cases, I did not really steal the idea, but even if I did, I would not do anything wrong). And the story got worse when one of those people formally wrote an email to our head. During those situations, I was able to look at the lack of wisdom from the outside 1.

The Delusion of Spherical Earth

One of the most severe consequences of having good ideas (maybe they are in fact wrong) is a sense of arrogance, satisfaction, and comfort. Sometimes, you know that some ideas are gonna fail (and that is true even for many good ideas): for example when someone was pitching her idea about a social network for college students to find cheap furniture and accommodation and making money through advertisement, I was laughing at her in my mind.
I was wrong. I realized it when I watched this video from a flat-earth believer who created a rocket to see that the earth is flat. This is admirable, when we were relaxed on our couch wasting our time watching TV, this guy have designed, engineered, and made a rocket and now, he has expertise in this field 2.

Perhaps this was one of the factors for Donald Trump to win the 2016 US presidential election. Many spherical-earth believers did not think that some guys are actively supporting him; in fact, the delusion of spherical earth caused them to be assured that he will not win the election no matter how many people will participate in the election. For the last point of this paragraph I need to say keep yourself away from those people mentioned above. Despite the fact that we should learn from them in pursuing goals no matter how many people are humiliating us, insanity is contagious. Even if you just argue with them, you will get similar to them.

Then What? How Can We Get to Work?

I do not want to make it a motivational blog. Just checkout YouTube to get tons of motivational speeches. However, I think one of the missing points among those speeches is the concept of synergy. In fact, this is one of the things I have learned from Sufism (more specifically, from Al-Ghazali). It is very embarrassing if you (only you) climb a tree of your university campus to get some of the berries; but when you have some crazy friends like yourself, it will be very fun to see how many other people will join you.
Go out there, find similar people like yourself (just like flat-earth believers) and network. Be open about your ideas and work on one of them together. Even if you fail, you have enjoyed your life at those moments.

Bonus: One Business Idea

Sorry, I a bit lazy to write all of my ideas on my website; if I make it difficult, I won’t come up with many ideas. By the way, I am going to explain one of my ideas here (unlike previous paragraphs, this one is very specific). If you want more, checkout YCombinator request for startup page, TED ideas or contact me.
If you are a programmer, you know how fantastic your tools are and you know how strong the community is. You just need to copy-paste your error to your browser to get your answer, you can manage every stage of your work with version control systems, you can automatically detect some of your bugs using linters, and so many other amazing things (this is not true Android Studio and native Android app development in general). However, if you have done a project in hardware, you will see it is not true at all.
You need to have Windows and install some custom (usually obsolete) drivers (example: AVR programmer drivers), the text editor sucks and sometimes it is impossible to use your favorite editor (example: Altera Modelsim, Altera Quartus, Arduino “IDE”), sometimes you will not have a compile error but your code fails at runtime (remove definition of a 16-bit wire in a Verilog code in Altera Quartus and build your code to see what I mean), usually you have 400+ warnings, you don’t have device manual online, sometimes even the standard libraries have name clash (remember there is no compile error) (I am talking about the crappy libraries in VHDL), and there is almost no community support; you cannot find any answer online. This means there are so many possible ideas to work on.
I believe, the only cause of Arduino’s success is bundling programmer with the micro controller in same hardware (with a kinda portable driver; it took time to provide the driver for OS X users) with a simple — still crappy — 3 programming environment (unlike CodeVisionAVR). So think about a programmer which understands HTTP and accepts the code from the network; no driver will be needed, all platforms will be supported, and programming can be done even remotely. Or think about a breadboard with programmable connections (millimeter scale of nanometer connections in FPGA); in order to save the circuit connections, you will not have to take a photo. You just put the components and it will detect them and connects them according to the file which is given via HTTP and you will use version control software applications (like Git) to manage the versions of your circuit.
On the other hand, if you are in academia, think about applying automated test generation methods in software, for software embedded hardware description languages (for example, Chisel is embedded in Scala and it is worth considering some of the JVM-based testing tools to test Chisel designs).

  1. 1.However, I agree that in academia, idea has value (just a bit, nothing more) as the originality is a must in research (compare it with industry where we have Ebay, Amazon, Walmart, Target, and more recently Google Express for online shopping and it is totally acceptable. Same story for Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music).
  2. 2.If I were him, I would have traveled to UAE and looked at the earth from the top level of Burj Khalifa (820 m) rather than jeopardizing my life and spending more money to reach the altitude of 570 m.
  3. 3.Fortunately, I haven't used it for a while. I searched for its images online and it seems to be acceptable now.
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