Catch and Release

Edible fish are getting smaller every year because we catch and eat the big ones, taking the genes for large size out of circulation. This has been going on for centuries; each generation grows up thinking that their increasingly-impoverished ocean is normal because they never had a chance to see what it used to look like.

As I was writing up this list of projects for Software Carpentry, and revising this talk, I started to wonder if was why so much of academic research and Silicon Valley alike seems so... small. Universities and corporate research labs are supposed to be places where ideas can mature, but as researchers' and entrepreneurs' cycle times shrink their ideas do too, which means the next generation doesn't even know what a fully-grown discovery looks like.

So I wonder: should we create some sort of "catch and release" program to give new ideas a chance to grow big and strong so that they can have big, strong, healthy offspring?

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