What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

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.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more

Slate and PBS News Hour on Why Borders Died and Barnes Noble Survives (For Now)

July 25, 2011, 8:30 AM

Like me, many readers were probably saddened by the news last week that Borders is shutting all of its remaining outlets.  In comparison to Barnes Noble, I often found Borders stores to carry a higher brow selection of books and to have a more complete and better presentation of magazines. 

Book stores -- even an Ann Arbor used book stored that turned into a corporate giant like Borders -- are among the great public spaces to found in cities and towns.  I particularly miss the giant Borders on Michigan Avenue in Chicago and wonder what a city like Bangor, Maine which lacks a Barnes Noble, will do once its Borders closes.

Fellow Big Think blogger Austin Allen reflected on the loss of Borders in a post earlier this week at Book Think.

For me, bookstores are the very best of the clean, well-lighted places a community has to offer. They’re a kind of spiritual retreat amidst the giant American mall; Jerry Seinfeld called them “one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.” If they die out, the culture of our cities might become Amazon's culture writ large: an endless sales pitch with no space for reflection.

A number of articles have appeared analyzing the reasons for Borders' demise and to blame the fall of the retail giant on Amazon is too narrow of a focus.  The best article I've spotted so far, comes from Annie Lowrey at Slate.

Here's the causes for the fall of Borders identified by Lowrey:

1. Borders miscalculated the Internet in its strategic planning, making fatal errors as early as 2000, even before the rise of Amazon.

2. Borders was fatally slow in recognizing the rise of e-books.

3. Borders failed to diversity, slow to react to the loss of DVD and CD sales, and woefully behind Barnes Noble in competing in the coffee market, losing out on exclusive contracts with Starbucks and instead settling for subsidiary Seattle's Best.

4. Borders mishandled its Big Box strategy, opening way too many stores and signing lease that were too long, meaning that the company had trouble shutting down the stores that were not making a profit.

Lowrey talked to the PBS News Hour about these root causes in a story last week.  Video below.


Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.


Slate and PBS News Hour on ...

Newsletter: Share: