re almost inventing things

Eric S. Raymond esr at
Tue Jan 26 19:19:47 UTC 2016

Mark Atwood <fallenpegasus at>:
> My lesson I take away from that is not that I am some special fount of
> valuable ideas, but that nearly everyone who works in the right parts of
> the tech space is, but that means little, as ideas are cheap, it's
> execution that is valuable.

I think this is *mostly* true.  Occasionally there are ideas that aren't cheap.
One of my favorite examples is Whitfield Diffie's insight about trapdoor
functions implying public-key crypto.

I would also say there is a third factor that comes between insight
and execution, a kind of courage. Many people fail at that step
because they lack the fortitude to believe the actual consequences of
their lightning-strike insight.  They flinch: "Someone else must have
thought of this," or "It can't really be like that!" or "Too weird!".
And then they don't follow through even to the point of beginning to

Whatever my other flaws, I've at least gotten pretty good at
recognizing the lightning when it lands and not flinching.  That's not
a capability I had reliably when I was younger.
		<a href="">Eric S. Raymond</a>

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