getting there second

my previous post about NASA’s Stardust mission was spawned after reading a Wired article about the Probe Flotilla to Scour Planets.

as evidenced by my post, the story of Stardust really did it for me. i was so fired up that i decided to submit the links for that site to

NOTE TO SELF: always read all of boingboing before submitting a link. do a full text search if necessary.

as it turns out, someone else had already submitted a link about aerogels, which they had found on the Stardust web site. by the timing of things, i’m pretty sure they found the Stardust web site just like i did, by using the Wired article.

the link timeline of shame
here is how events unfolded with respect to link generation (all events occur on 03.26.04):

  • 02:00am PT: Wired posts article about probe flotilla; article contains link to Stardust web site
  • 03:30am (Timezone unknown): Link about aerogels posted on (doesn’t anybody sleep around here?)
  • 09:26am (Timezone unknown): boingboing posts a link to the aforementioned aerogel post
  • 11:37am PT: rPm becomes fascinated with Stardust, and reads everything on the Web site
  • 01:12pm PT: rPm completes post about Stardust and feels good
  • 01:14pm PT: rPm posts Stardust link suggestion on boingboing, ignorant of the fact that if he had scrolled down the page a bit before posting, he would have seen that someone else had already done it
  • 03:56pm PT: rPm looks at the boingboing RSS feed and sees aforementioned post about aerogel; he thinks “what an interesting coincidence!”
  • 03:57pm PT: rPm realizes with both humor and sadness that he got there second, about seven hours late

on almost being first
this happens to me a lot. it seems to be happening more lately, or at the very least, i’m more aware of it. i’ll think something or write something that i think is terribly witty, pat myself on the back for said idea or writing, and then find out that someone on the net had the same idea or wrote almost the same thing two [hours|days|months|weeks|years] ago (my post on link reciprocity is a good example of me discovering this in real time while i write a post).

it’s really embarrassing. it makes me realize that i’m far from alone in my ideas, which can either be good or bad, depending on your perspective. it also makes me wonder about how original ideas really come about. are there original ideas, or are we all just pulling from a collective “idea sea,” and some of us are just better fishermen than others?

i’m sure someone’s already thought about that, though, so i’ll just save myself the trouble and do a google search.

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