To some, getting nerd-sniped is a bad thing. For example:
I think there’s some truth to this, but there’s also something Flatland-esque about it. Specifically, getting nerd-sniped is something that happens to you, and it would be safe to say that someone wouldn’t nerd-snipe themselves, because ostensibly it’s someone going down a rabbit hole and it wouldn’t make sense to send yourself down a rabbit hole.
OK, sure. It’s important to solve problems that people actually have, and pursuing things just because they’re intellectually interesting is not necessarily a good heuristic for making something people want.
Except if the “something” is a curiosity, and “people” is just you. In that case, by all means, go for it.
Moreover, when I think of the things I got “nerd-sniped” by in the last 18 months, I’d say more than half of them came back as some knowledge I used when building something people actually did want.
I’m sure that if you didn’t take some time to explore things you think are interesting, if you ended up succeeding, maybe you’d get there faster. But I also think that building and not taking time to find out what you think is interesting is sort of a Skinnerian way of thinking about product (and probably human) development.
Definitely, make something people want. Don’t conflate a business venture with an intellectual curiosity. But if you’re aware that you’re going to spend some time exploring something you think is interesting, have a plan and timeline in mind, and think there might be even a modicum of relevance between what you’re doing now and what you might be doing in the future, then don’t call it nerd sniping - call it sitting beneath a tree and getting hit on the head by an apple.
The mind works in curious ways and I think having the time and resources to work on something that you definitely find interesting and may have some real world value is probably the destination.