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

1

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

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

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

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

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
Close

The Deadly Important Insights of Big Data

April 4, 2013, 12:00 AM
Flus

What's the Big Idea?

We didn't used to look at our friends and view them as a rich source for data, but Facebook changed that, by "datafying" friendships. Similarly, we never used to think of our whispers and "stray thoughts" or our professional networks as data-producing entities. And yet, Twitter and LinkedIn changed that too. In short, we are datifying aspects of our lives "that we never actually understood as being informational before," says Kenneth Cukier, co-author of the book Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, And Think.

Watch the video here:

 

What's the Significance?

According to Cukier "we’re just at the outset of the big data era," so we have to use our imaginations to consider what all of the variable uses for big data in the future will be. But Cukier also points to a powerful, concrete example that we can see today. 

Twitter can tell us, for instance, that subpopulations exist that are either immunized for the flu or are not. This insight completely upends the idea of 'herd immunity' because "there’s whole subgroups of the population that all don’t get vaccinated, yet they all hang out together," Cukier points out. 

It took datafying relationships and interactions to learn this "deadly important" insight about flu vaccinations, Cukier says. "So when you think about it in the grand scheme, what big data means is we are able to learn things about ourselves at the population level, at a huge scale, that we never could in the past." 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

More from the Big Idea for Thursday, February 13 2014

Predictive Analytics

How do some companies and governments know more about yourself in many areas than even you do? The answer: big data.  In today's lesson, Eric Siegel shows how the data that you are producing ev... Read More…

 

The Deadly Important Insigh...

Newsletter: Share: