Chapter 8. The best ideas win

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The best ideas don’t always win, but that doesn’t stop people from believing they should. Most innovators were frustrated by how their ideas, clearly superior in their own minds, struggled for acceptance in the world. Pick from any field at any time and you’ll discover tales of dismay, depression, and anger fueled by the innovators’ faith that their better ideas not only should, but would win out over others. Of course, visionary innovators are rarely objective in these matters, as often these so-called best ideas are conveniently their own.[138] Ted Nelson, the man who coined the phrase hypertext, laments the limitations of the World Wide Web, and he continues to fight for big ideas that predate the web browsers by decades. Douglas Engelbart and Alan Kay, pioneers of the personal computer, have similar exasperations about the grand ideas they pioneered in the 1970s that have yet to be realized.[139] Even social and political innovators like Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Thomas Jefferson voiced similar righteousness about their ideas and the faith that the best ones should prevail.

It’s not news that innovators are often idealists, but the myth that the best ideas win should not be underestimated. Notice how few people run around arguing that the worst idea wins or that their own inventions are rubbish. People have beliefs about what the world is or ...

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