The problem at hand

As a person working with technology in creative ways, I have ideas.

Ideas have a hard life: At any point from their inception to their implementation, they can turn out to be impractical, unnecessary, or equivalent to something already well established. Worse yet: they can be just abandoned for lack of time to pursue them, which is instead spent on other ideas or projects that look more promising at that time.

Often, all it would take for an idea to be pursued further is input from other interested parties; with a number of people connected, an idea can become a fruitful project that would otherwise linger as low-priority ideas with several individuals.

Moreover, if ideas get buried that have matured over time, the research effort that went in it is lost along with it.

A public idea incubator

I'm therefore starting to publish ideas or proto-projects of mine in this idea incubator. While the term is not new (Cowgirl Jules describes it for personal use), I'd roughtly describe my collection as follows:

I keep my idea incubator public, and want to encourage others to do the same, for various reasons:


The public idea incubator as I am now running mine on is not without issues, as outlined here:

How to collect feedback?

I strongly support the idea of the world wide web in its original web of people's publications sense: If you want to publish something, make a web page for it, write what you want to say there, and if you talk about something that has a URL, place a link.

That works fine in general, especially with the rise of blogs. (Not everybody might have a web site where he can create a new page, but everyone can write something like a blog post).

For the idea incubator to work well, backlinks should be provided, ie. if someone writes a blog post about an idea, it should show up in the incubator. Several schemes for that exist (compared on wikipedia), I'm just not sure what to best implement, and have not implemented anything here yet.

For small comments, comment forms under blog posts are widespread. I prefer not to have those on my web page for security reasons (both technical and legal), but would gladly collect URIs of comments people post about ideas in a form which the visitor's user agent can dereference and show. I am not aware of an established mechanism that allows such a thing in a decentralized way, though. (I'm envisioning a form like "If you want to post a comment and don't have an account in a service that provides web comments, click here to create a throwaway account on service X". That line should go into an idea incubator article.)

Idea lifecycle

To the new reader, the current state of an idea is relevant; to someone watching it, additions are. I'm not sure how satisfy both needs in an accessible way on a website without keeping an explicit change log.

Moreover, when others take up an idea and extend it, they might put their extensions into their public idea incubator. When those ideas converge, they may might migrate it to a shared (eg. wiki) URI. Such merges are likely to be harder to track.

Incubator status

The concept of the public idea incubator is part of my personal idea incubator. This is pushing the boundaries of the description given above (which is part of the reason why I was careful not to call it a definition), but I still consider this an experiment.

I'll happily link other people's ideas on idea incubators here, and if it turns out the whole concept works, will move this out of the incubator.

--chrysn 2015-03-08

This page is part of chrysn's public personal idea incubator; go up for its other entries, or read about the idea of having an idea incubator for more information on what this is.