The most valuable insights are both general and surprising. F = ma for example. But general and surprising is a hard combination to achieve. That territory tends to be picked clean, precisely because those insights are so valuable.
Because these start out so general, you only need a small delta of novelty to produce a useful insight.
A small delta of novelty is all you’ll be able to get most of the time. Which means if you take this route your ideas will seem a lot like ones that already exist. Sometimes you’ll find you’ve merely rediscovered an idea that did already exist. But don’t be discouraged. Remember the huge multiplier that kicks in when you do manage to think of something even a little new.
It’s not true that there’s nothing new under the sun. There are some domains where there’s almost nothing new. But there’s a big difference between nothing and almost nothing, when it’s multiplied by the area under the sun.
— General and Surprising
— Paul Graham
2018.04.22 Sunday ACHK