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On Sharing Fragile Ideas — Or How I Am Arrogantly Humble


Find Silvano D'Agostino's online prose.

On Sharing Fragile Ideas — Or How I Am Arrogantly Humble

Silvano D'Agostino

One of my largest fascination about Apple has always been its secrecy — there’s nothing quite like the anticipation before a keynote, the tingling upon actually seeing whatever new shiny piece of technological art is being presented, that rare and therefore even more special moment when you hear Steve or, more recently, Tim utter the famous phrase: “But there is one more thing…”

Upon my arrival in college, my entrepreneurial and creative spirits were truly unleashed, and I attended several start-up-related events. The piece of advice I heard most[1] was to share ones ideas, collaborating on them with others, and iterating and re-iterating on them continuously. Google (in)famously tends to release anything and everything right away; we probably wouldn’t know about Glass or its self-driving cars otherwise; they do a little bit of everything and then see what works.

It would be foolish to assume Apple didn’t play around with at least as many ideas as Google and the like. Publicly, however, they only present what’s deemed ready after cycle upon cycle of internal iteration, re-thinking, and re-iteration. The number of people in the “inner circle” who are involved in these processes is small; it’s a task that belongs to those who have proven themselves, who can be trusted, who will bring something to the table.

A number of ideas pop through my head every day; small things, mostly, mixed with the occasional bigger concept. I write them down. I decide they’re not worth pursuing (just yet). I deem them only OK, not good enough to be shared, to be thought about further, not iterated upon enough yet.

Apple’s secrecy is no secret. They’re so secretive, in fact, that, depending on what you do, you can’t even tell your significant other what exactly you’re working on. Millions and billions of dollars could be at stake, so it’s certainly justifiable.

Obviously I do not have that justification. Nothing I do has a potential “One More Thing”. There is no anticipation for anything. And that’s OK, there really shouldn’t be. But I still tend to not speak about my thoughts, unless they’re finished. It’s a matter of respect for myself. Every idea needs to grow in me first before I release it to a selected few (who might change depending on the idea), and it needs to be finished before I can bare showing it to anyone. What can be considered “finished”? Well, that’s the struggle, isn’t it? There is obviously no clear formula to determine an ideas status, but I think my sense for when to share has improved over time — it’s another type of instinct you develop.

But there is yet another aspect worth touching on: Once you’ve “shipped”, (how) do you let people know? I do not market to my friends; yes, I use social networks, but rarely the one my actual friends use[2]. It’s a weird thing because I like to think I’m pretty good at presenting things in a nice manner; such a manner that I have, indeed, been accused of coming across as arrogant; and I am no doubt proud of my work, otherwise it wouldn’t have been released; yet it doesn’t seem worthy of my friends’ time, not because I’m oh-so humble, but because I don’t feel comfortable sharing my often kind of nerdy thoughts with my “regular human” friends. And then there’s days that feeling turns into a spiral and I wonder if it’s really worth anybody’s time at all.

Phew, this turned way darker than I ever expected. It boils down to me wanting to keep thoughts to myself until I am satisfied with them; and that even after releasing them to the world, I tend to not share them with my close IRL friends, but target a different demographic.

  1. It might also just be what resonated most…  ↩

  2. Guess…  ↩