When trying to solve a problem, you can either seek out the information required to solve your problem (and with that information draw your own conclusions), or you can seek out answers to similar problems and apply the best of those answers to your problem.
Which do you think is better?
After thinking about this a lot over some red wine and Conchiglie della Casa with K, I think that there is no doubt in my mind that the first option is infinitely superior to the second. Not only that, but I think that people who do the first will inexplicably succeed while people who do the second will inexplicably fail. The part that really interests me is how indistinguishable the two methods are--on their surface they seem to be almost exactly the same thing, and talking with people I don't think you'll be able to tell if they've used the first or second method (they may even interchange the methods without thinking about it).
What's the big difference, then? From a
In a world where only good ideas are rewarded, people recycling old ideas will only ever ride the tails of succeeding projects, and they will never surpass the projects they are trying to imitate or learn from. It goes against common sense, in some ways: learning from the past is not actually valuable, unless the lesson you learn is that you should not rely on the past for the answers to future questions. It's a subtle ecosystem, though... you can imagine a spectrum of ideas that all look like they were generated the same way, but in actuality some are riding in the wake of other, succeeding in limited ways that make them scratch their heads wondering why they're not seeing the same success as the wake-generators, when in fact it's just a simple matter of seeing who is generating new information and who isn't.