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September 8, 2003

Ideas come from the Oort Cloud

Here's a splendid quote from Henry David Thoreau:

New ideas come into this world somewhat like falling meteors, with a flash and an explosion, and perhaps somebody’s castle-roof perforated.

I've never heard of that quote before.

In the past few months, I've been using an analogy of the Oort Cloud to describe the relationship between ideas about change and change itself. The Oort Cloud lies far outside the range of the planets: it extends out to as much as three light years away from the sun, and contains as many as a trillion proto-comets.

Once in a while these objects bump against each other, and one of them starts the long journey into towards the Sun, where it a comet.

I've been lobbying for improved change control procedures at work, and I've been using the Oort cloud by analogy to support my argument. Ideas are like objects in the Oort Cloud: there are more of them than you can keep track of in their formational stage. It's the ones that come inbound that you need to worry about.