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What would happen if all seven billion people were online and challenged themselves with the question “What new and useful idea have I posted today?” It is obvious, to me at least, that huge quantities of wonderful things would quickly come into existence. I posed a similar challenge to my friends back in Berkeley at the CafĂ© Mediterraneum in the 60s. I several times placed a piece of typing paper on the coffee table and said, “You can improve the world with this single sheet of paper if you write down the right thing.” There is no way of knowing if anyone took up that challenge directly, but that was the attitude I was pushing at that time and some of those idle coffee drinkers did do marvelous things.

Now that we have the internet and near instant communication it is much easier to spread new and useful ideas and to find them too. I think it is the intent of a person that is critical when they approach their online experience. It can be for creating an idea which itself can be changed for the better, and be developed for the betterment of humanity. If the person seeks entertainment, that is what they will get. If they seek social community that is what they will get. If they seek new ideas, that is what they will get. But, if they seek to provide new and useful ideas to the world that is what they will get and the world will be made better. With the advent of the internet everyone can now participate in the improvement of humanity and the world.

Many people are hesitant to expose their good ideas, perhaps believing they can make money out of them, but that is a totally different skill set from having an idea and generally requires a lot of work. Posting an idea is a simple as breathing and you will probably benefit more by having other people do the work. It is easy for me to post the idea of getting power out of the wind using kites, and I think that it can be done, but the work and expense of doing it are totally beyond my abilities. So, I will benefit more if someone else does develop that industry. There are billions of people and every one of them has ideas that are useful, and every one of those ideas comes out of a slightly different situation and therefore is different from every other idea. When a person posts an idea and another person in another situation understands it, this second person being in a different situation will apply the idea in a slightly different way. From the slight differences in the new situations comes the possibility of a new application in a new way, and that sometimes is really useful.

There are many examples of a slight change of an idea making an enormous difference, but Wikipedia is a good one. Jimmy Wales had tried several ways of creating an online encyclopedia until he got it right, but when it was right it grew rapidly to fantastic usefulness. Which brings me back to the single piece of paper for creating ideas. Keep notes throughout your day of little ideas and then post them because it is impossible to know what applications others will have for a new idea. When you post the idea make the title and headings and tags into Google searchable terms so other people can find them.