Just “waiting for the real thing?”

Ever had a brilliant idea that could potentially ‘spice-up’ a business, the world wide web, or the planet?

Like many creative people my great ideas often stay “just ideas”. They tend to languish and then fade away.

Except, in my case they don’t always fade away – a few abandoned concepts have come back to ‘haunt’ me… This is because, inevitably, somebody else in a far away country is on the same wavelength as me – but they’ve actually made it happen.

Here’s just a few examples:



Another one of my crazy ideas – now somebody else is making millions.Just before WAP 1.0 (text web browsing on a cellphone) was released in New Zealand (around 2000) I was playing around with usage concepts for new and emerging cellphone technologies – one such idea was WAP-A-DATE [PDF, 16kb].

One of the major cellphone companies in NZ were amused, but nothing came of it.

But in recent years several similar concepts have come to life:

Webdate: “I can go to a club, and the phone becomes a transponder,” said Joe Brennan Jr., vice president of Webdate, the industry leader with 5 million users. “I can find someone I match up with, and that facilitates a meeting.”

Dodgeball, a service where users make a list of “crushes” based on online pictures. Then, when they go out, they send “check-in” text messages to Dodgeball to find out if a crush has checked in nearby. If so, the crush instantly receives a picture and profile of the admirer via cell.

Zogo enables users to search through profiles and then speak over the phone through a service that doesn’t reveal their numbers.


In 1999 I was frustrated at how the people at my workplace couldn’t easily share their web bookmarks (or favourites) from within their web browser. So I thought up a novel solution – it was a way to feed your own bookmarks on to the web and share them with other teams in the company, and the rest of the web world (if you wished).

At the time I wrote a proposal [PDF, 126k] complete with diagrams and showed it around the company.

But… nobody was supportive of my idea (they couldn’t understand why you’d want to share your bookmarks with anyone else!)

Then four years later along came del.icio.us…

del.icio.us is a social bookmarking service that allows users to tag, save, manage and share Web pages from a centralized source.

Joshua Schachter created del.icio.us in 2003 as a hobby and an informal way to tag and share Web pages between friends. From that point on, del.icio.us rapidly grew into the social bookmarking service it is today.

In December of 2005, Yahoo! acquired del.icio.us and pledged to provide the company with the resources, support, and room it needs to continue growing the service and community.


Well, as you can figure – I’ve possibly given up too early and too easily!

But my one of my greatest ideas still hasn’t happened yet – and I’ve been sitting on it for seven years.

And now I think the time is right to start bringing this idea it to life…

  • The technology it needs is now in existence.
  • Society (I think) would embrace it.
  • The environment (and therefore humanity) would benefit.

So, coming up (within a week or so) – I’d like to get you, and my regular readers, involved in evolving the idea.

I’ll be asking for your stories to help me refine the concept and sound out its feasibility.

Then I’ll find a way to make it happen…

2 responses to “Just “waiting for the real thing?””

  1. Jif Avatar

    Story of my life. Great ideas dreamed up, 3 years later someone’s doing it. One day I’ll act on an idea and then watch out world….

  2. Adam Avatar

    Yep – been there… I had the online-bookmark sharing service idea about 2000 I think, I built a prototype and stored my links on there to share with class mates.

    My other big idea was being able to use your remote to grab URL’s and contact information from TV adverts, then point it at your computer and display the company’s web site. I heard a year or two after I thought this one up that people were already testing the idea commercially… never have seen a finished product tho. Maybe it was a naf idea 😉