Basically, just as in the world outside computers, ideas and technologies compete for attention, leverage etc. Some win, some lose; and some may seem to be The Winner for some time, then fade into obscurity with the advent of The Next Big Thing. It may or may not have anything to do with which was actually the better. Witness VHS vs Betamax, or the more recent war between the various DVD formats.
CORBA was huge, awkward and hard to use, but it was the best some people could invent at the time (note that it was designed before the World Wide Web - and HTTP, Java, XML, ... - became widely known). And it was also a classic example of design by committee, where they cram in every idea to satisfy everyone, in the end making it uselessly bloated (at least viewed by today's eyes). Not to mention its price, which with the advent of FOSS soon became prohibitive.
Ultimately, HTTP + JSON solved the problem for the masses
At least for someone who hasn't seen a couple of similar "final solutions" rise and ultimately fall... It is good to keep in mind that there was a similar sentiment about CORBA in its time ;-)
I feel it is apt to quote from The Rise and Fall of CORBA:
CORBA’s history is one that the computing industry has seen many times, and it seems likely that current middleware efforts, specifically Web services, will reenact a similar history. [...]
Overall, the OMG’s technology adoption process must be seen as the core reason for CORBA’s decline. The process encourages design by committee and political maneuvering to the point where it is difficult to achieve technical mediocrity, let alone technical excellence. Moreover, the addition of disjointed features leads to a gradual erosion of the architectural vision. [...]
A democratic process such as the OMG’s is uniquely ill-suited for creating good software. Despite the known procedural problems, however, the industry prefers to rely on large consortia to produce technology. Web services, the current silver bullet of middleware, uses a process much like the OMG’s and, by many accounts, also suffers from infighting, fragmentation, lack of architectural coherence, design by committee, and feature bloat. It seems inevitable that Web services will enact a history quite similar to CORBA’s.
Now from a different angle: upon reading your term "ideas of the masses", I thought about very different things than CORBA or other standards; these are typically the idea of one person or a small group. I thought about notorious practices/points of views such as "cowboy coding", "code and pray", "it works on my machine" etc. These are IMHO real "ideas of the masses", as this is the way almost any beginner developer instinctively starts to write code. And they are wrong, as they don't scale neither in space nor in time - one can't create large, maintainable, extendable programs this way. Yet I feel that unfortunately it is still the norm rather than the exception for people to try to work this way in professional shops all over the world.
The other extreme of this is many managers' and theorists' ideas of the "right approach" to SW development, manifesting in big-M Methodologies like CMM, RUP, Waterfall etc. The idea lying behind all of these is that all you need is the Right Process, and it will start to automatically produce quality software in a deterministic manner, regardless of who the developers actually are. Notice that the same game can be played using Agile methods too - it's just a change of labels. Any manager who believes that selecting (and keeping) the right members for his/her development team is less important than the development process, is bound to fail, whichever that process happens to be. However, this belief in Process still seems to be prevalent - maybe it is still taught in management schools?