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Thursday, 1 March, 2001, 13:48 GMT
Ideas hamster: Running your brain off its wheel

ideas hamster, n, • someone who, with seemingly endless energy, scurries away night and day on the inspiration treadmill.

USAGE: Sir Bob Geldof, on new job as consultant to advertising company: "Part of what I'm supposed to do is to bring in these people they call 'idea hamsters'. They talk absolute sh*** for two hours and it's exhausting but out of that you still get three minutes of very interesting ideas. And I think that's why we're getting drunk and having very big meals and getting free cars." (Independent, Feb 13)

CITATION: Highlighted by Gareth Branwyn in Wired magazine as "the kind of person who always seems to have his idea generator running".

RELATED TO: out of the box thinking (qv)

OBVIOUS PERIL 1: Of coming up with dozens of good ideas, but not doing anything about putting them into practice. Leads to "can't-do" angst when other people have the same idea after you and then make shedloads of money

OBVIOUS PERIL 2: Of putting all your energy into something, and eventually ending up back where you first started, inspiring the curiosity of onlookers who wonder what motivates you to keep going.

SAD FOOTNOTE: The sun seems to be going in on one of Geldof's most notable ideas, (an online holiday booking service). In line with many other dot.coms, it has laid off staff - about a third of its workforce. Rumours circulate in city pages of newspapers that the whole outfit - at one stage worth 20m - is about to be sold off for very much less.

Reader Sebastien Turner adds: Having just discovered the joys of the "ideas hamster" may I draw your attention to the recent discovery of the "desk monkey" who whilst spreading rapidly is rarely seen as their natural habitat is within the darkest depths of call-centre country. It has been suggested that the desk monkey is in fact the mature or "hollow" form of ideas hamsters.

Other sad footnotes and ideas that never made it can be submitted to the E-cyclopedia by clicking here.

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