Diaspora is promising to build a distributed, open-source social network, they are apt look at you glassy-eyed. Perhaps they'll nod and say, "Oh. Cool." Tell those same people that Diaspora is promising to build an alternative to Facebook, and they're much more likely to know what you are talking about. And as of late, it's much more likely they'll nod and say, "Oh! Cool!" - and mean it.If you tell most folks that
Now, it's not that the idea of a distributed, open-source social network is a bad one. To the contrary. But the stars that lined up for Diaspora this week and that resulted in their securing over $100,000 in microfunding probably wasn't due entirely to the technical specifications they boasted for their project: "Full-fledged communications between Seeds (Diaspora instances), Complete PGP encryption, External Service, Scraping of most major services (reclaim your data), Version 1 of Diaspora's API with documentation, Public GitHub repository of all Diaspora code."
Of course, these details matter. Building an anti-Facebook might be a timely idea, but you also need to have (or hire) the technical chops to bring that idea to fruition.
No matter how beautiful or brilliant your code, investors and customers are probably not all that interested in, for example, the intricacies of how you plan to use JSON to handle your payload. They need to know that your product works and works well, and just as importantly, you need to show them why they'd want to use it.
There are exceptions, for sure, and times when it's necessary to speak to the technical details. You might need to address why you've chosen to build your new smartphone app in Flash, for example.
My point isn't that your ideas are too geeky or complex. Here at ReadWriteWeb, we love geeky, complex ideas. The point is that when you sharing your ideas with others that you need to pay attention to who comprises your audience. You need to make sure that you help them understand why they should care in your ideas (why they should invest in your startup or become your customer) and you need to craft your message accordingly.
You want to give someone a reason why they should use your product. But you needn't give them the user's manual.
Brain coral photo from Flickr