Why the best ideas come to the most ordinary people

In a room full of tech fanboys, it's difficult to imagine Biz Stone being overshadowed by, well, anyone - but government innovation body NESTA managed it quite nicely today by seating the diminutive Twitter founder next to all 6'5" of Stephen Fry - a man who is so beloved by the British public, he gets to decide who is important enough to be commemorated by a blue plaque - thereby effectively giving him control over much of the public's understanding of British history.

The pair were there to discuss social networking - its uses, potential, advantages and drawbacks - as part of NESTA's 'Silicon Valley comes to the UK' season.

It was a bit unfair of them to have seated Fry - eloquent, well-dressed, really, really tall - next to Stone, who by comparison looked like a scruffy, stuttering 12-year-old - but what struck Smarta the most was how the most remarkable ideas come to the most unremarkable people.

Because while Twitter is being hailed by all and sundry as one of the most exciting technological achievements of recent times - so much so that its value now tops $1bn - Stone himself is difficult to describe as having a particularly inspirational personality. He practically shrugged off most questions: "We were just playing around with an idea one of our engineers [Evan Williams] had had," he said. "We weren't especially emotionally involved."

Spotify founder Daniel Ek is similar: when the man responsible for one of the most disruptive music technologies of the past few years was asked that all-important question, 'what's on your iPod?', during a fireside chat a few months ago, his response was depressing in its lack of creativity. "Um, I really like Coldplay," he said. "And U2." The less said about that response, the better, really.

It seems the saying 'never meet your idols' rings true - but really, for most of us, it's encouraging. You may not be Fry-esque in your level of wit and intelligence; and you may not be the most creative person alive - but as long as you have the right idea, you still have a very good chance of success.

Comforting, isn't it?

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