Where do new ideas come from?

I recently read a blog post summarising a book about where new ideas come from.

http://vonscience.blogspot.com.au/2010/12/where-do-new-ideas-come-from.html

This is essentially a summary of the book, “Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation” by Steven Johnson (2011). I am definitely getting that book.

The question is, do the same ideas just flow around and around the world, like a meme? Only to be applied to different problems again and again? Can ideas be categorised, regardless of subject matter? Can this categorisation be recognised by a computer? How do you recognise a truly new idea, that has never been thought of in any previous form? How will the new idea be understood, if there is no metaphor for it? If there is no metaphor, how can it be described in words?

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