Ideas worth their weight in gold?!

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Watchell got me thinking about the value of ideas. I recently told my ENGL 103 students that a sentence is basically one discreet unit of thought-- humans rely on spoken language and "written language" (hegemony of print; includes all forms of communicating with symbols including texting with a phone and using hand sign language) to compose these infobits, which are transferable between brains. Sentences are one of the earliest and most reliable technologies for communicating ideas, and I'd argue they haven't really changed much across all languages since the first words were strung together in a comprehensive manner. According to Watchell, the value of "long-form texts", or what I'd call "big ideas", remains at a premium-- perhaps mass-literacy and open-publishing is responsible for the emergence of new, important ideas, but the process of invention and articulation remains something entirely separate from the tools we use to communicate, something primal and biological and probably also chemical. Ideas are what drive social evolution; they are more valuable than gold, more valuable than anything, really, because the concept of value is an idea, and ideas are basically just sentences, and books are made of sentences, but paper, ink, and glue are worthless... is I think the point I'm trying to make here.



Will's picture


Mr. F,

You see an ideal world where ideas are king even if we don't recognize ideas as being valuable. Don't we have to recognize ideas first, for the idea to be valuable instead of the paper, ink, and glue? Isn't the human voice, language, and body just more tools for communication? What are ideas without the tools to express them? I wouldn't be so hasty to assign worthlessness to paper, ink, and glue, for worthlessness is just an idea too.