Stealing Ideas to Create a Thesis Topic


I absolutely love this TED talk on remixing ideas. Think about it. If I tell you to create a website, you'll probably use ideas from websites you've previously seen or used. If I tell you to cook up some eggs, you may remember how your mom made it when you were little and cook it up that way. In the end, none of your ideas truly belong to you. You're stealing someone else's ideas. THIEF!

But that's ok! Our world thrives on stealing great ideas from other people. In fact, I would even go so far as to encourage this (with the proper citations and references, of course). Great ideas lead to new innovations and even better ideas. In the TED talk, Ferguson refers to Bob Dylan and Apple stealing ideas from other companies. Apple would have never become what it is today were it not for this thievery. It's not so different in academia. All papers will have references to other papers related to the current study. Without backup evidence, the papers have no solid argument.

A thesis topic is one that is original and has not yet been explored by others. But when I started searching for my Masters Thesis topic, I came to realize that all papers were remixes of other papers. Ideas had been taken from combinations of other papers to create new innovations. I began looking into projects and papers related to my own interests for inspiration. Most papers I read had a "Future Work" or "Conclusions" section, detailing aspects that could or should be changed about the current project being presented. Researchers were literally spoon feeding me the details of how their own ideas could be manipulated. Jackpot! These little details were all I needed to remix and create a brand new idea for my thesis topic! I'll give you an example of one highly influential video that shaped my thesis topic:


Many people, including myself a year ago, find the idea of choosing a thesis topic while not knowing your interests terrifying. Well I'm here to say have no fear! Remixing is here! Ultimately, everything we have done or will do is a remix of an idea. So don't be afraid to dive into a project or paper that you like and remix the idea.

PS. I'd also like to encourage open-sourcing your projects as well. Nowadays, we see so much free, open-sourced code in the world of computer science. Millions of new ideas have developed as a direct effect of this action. If someone else can remix your idea to create new ideas, you're ultimately helping the world thrive and evolve. This is how we move forward. Sharing is caring!