Progressive Ideas are Unstable


What is published early deals with current issues. Up-to-dateness is the necessary (but not sufficient) ingredient for the development of progressiveness. In the hypothesis that society learns from experience, new ideas come from combinations of old ones.

graph TD;
    A[Old ideas] -->|produce| B[New ideas]

On the other hand, the old ideas have had time to be proven. Taking advantage of more experience, they are robust but less distracting or even faulty.

Watching the news, new ideas proliferate. They are born by the thousand and die for many immediately, filtered by time. When ideas are delivered to the public, they are subject to the process of natural selection. Time eliminates content deemed of poor quality by the public. At best, bad ideas will remain, forgotten and barren of new ideas.

graph TD;
    A[Old ideas] -->|produce| B[<strike>Bad idea 1</strike>]
    A -->|produce| C[Good idea 2]
    A -->|produce| E[Good idea 3]
    A -->|produce| F[<strike>Bad idea 4</strike>]
    C -->|added in| H[New old ideas]
    E -->|added in| H[New old ideas]
    H -->|produce| A2[<strike>Bad idea A</strike>]
    H -->|produce| B2[Good idea B]
    H -->|produce| C2[Good idea C]
    H -->|produce| D2[<strike>Bad idea D</strike>]

If you wish to benefit from avant-garde ideas, you won’t find them in the books of the past. The bleeding edge ideas are the one under development, or just released. Those are the one competitive, fun and capable. Access to progressive ideas comes at a price:

  1. filter: following the news from day to day exposes us to a lot of bad ideas. It requires time and energy to figure out the good from the bad.
  2. stability: new ideas, even good ones, are unstable. For the simple reason that they have not been experienced.

I got the concept of stability from the release management process in software engineering where having the last fancy feature is not always the right option. In a corporate production environment, the deployment of bleeding edge software is avoided. For system stability, we prefer to use older, less feature-rich software which that has had time to be proven by the community.

Another example. If you have a limited amount of time to tackle a topic, it is best to tackle content that has already gone through this natural filter. It allows you to understand the background and the foundation of movements or ideas. On the other hand, if you want progressive ideas you will have to find sources of more recent knowledge while accepting the risk of instability.