I have always had a problem with this viewpoint because the one thing you can almost guarantee is that someone out there in the world, if not dozens or hundreds of others will have had a similar idea and be working on it.
They may also be brighter than you and more advanced in their thinking than you and have more time to develop the idea. So why not seek them out and collaborate with them!
But like all good ideas - even this one is not unique - I have just discovered Phil Wainewright in his Loosely Coupled weblog advocating exactly the same mindset and putting it far better than I might .
Read the full posting and think about it. We all have ideas that would be better shared than hoarded!
I think this highlights one important aspect of a highly networked world that we are all going to have to get used to. There are very few genuinely original ideas in the world. Someone, somewhere has inevitably already come up with the same idea. By pooling your thoughts with theirs, both of you will likely progress them further than you could have done individually (or maybe someone else watching the exchange will have a new insight that takes the idea further than the pair of you). The more open the network, the more everyone can feed off each other's ideas. The less open it is, the more slowly everyone progresses.Side note: I recently developed some RSS code for Lotus Notes and I'm not aware of any similar code available on the web. Now I could try to hold on to it or sell it but its not core to what I'm about and I do not have the time or inclination at present to do anything more with it. So I've made it available on my site for free download.
So which is better? I think the answer is that, in an extensive open network, the one thing you can be sure of is that someone else already has the same idea as you. If you deny that fact, you relegate yourself to coming in behind them. If you accept it and embrace the network, you have a chance of participating in their success. (I have a feeling this has been said better by someone at Microsoft, but I can't recall the reference just now. Perhaps someone reading this will be able to refresh my memory).
In the past few months over 50 people from around the world have downloaded it. Most have left their e-mail addresses and most have subscribed to my knowledge-letter. When I come back to further develop the RSS capability on my site - I will have built up a small network of people whom I can contact and share ideas with. Hopefully getting more out of it than I have put in. But I don't really care - if I had not published the code - it would have rotted on my hard-disk - publishing it means that people get to benefit from it and move the technology forward. In the long run everyone benefits.