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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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The World Turned Upside Down

November 11, 2009, 4:16 PM
Map

People see what their tools let them see. Case in point: How different the world looks when it's mapped according to unfamiliar principles.

Even more striking than a reverse-pole map are these, by the Worldmapper Project, whose maps resize territories according to their relative weights for some subject of interest -- like income, Internet use, or age-of-death. As the project's Danny Dorling and Anna Barford wrote a few years ago, countries and continents are still recognizable, but the representation of their differences by, say, population density yields ``shrunken areas [that] are like balloons that have had some air let out, and expanded areas [that] are like balloons that have been inflated.'' The effect is weird, compelling and informative. Check out the formidable lobsterish creature that results from representing the regions of the United States according to their population density.

 

The World Turned Upside Down

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