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

Forget Good vs. Evil: Manage Your Talent to Create Added Value

April 30, 2011, 7:25 PM

“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. That sucks”, says Jeff Hammerbacher, the researcher who laid the foundation for facebook’s precision advertising model. A similar sentiment is found in the 2001 artwork “Designers, stay away from corporations that want you to lie for them”, by British designer Jonathan Barnbrook and one of the signators of the First Things First Manifesto 2000 - a call for designers’ problem-solving skills to be put to worthwhile use. 

It’s easy to take Hammerbacher and Barnbrook’s statements and start an argument for the need for good in design and the evils of consumerism. However, the comments and the manifesto itself are not the result of some kind of moral decay creeping into the design profession but of a disproportionate distribution of creative power.

Instead of taking side in the value/value-free design argument from a moral perspective, we can look at it from an economic one. At all times, no matter what we do, we work with limited resources. Be it money, time, inspiration or brain-power, we simply can’t invest them in everything. Our individual choices will distribute these resources in a way that will cause only certain products, campaigns, companies and ideas to grow and produce a certain kind of value. 

There is nothing wrong with selling dog biscuits or designer clothes. It’s not that big corporations with tempting advertising budgets are evil, they are simply not as important, and the value they create is not as needed. In the context of the “unprecedented environmental, social and cultural crises that demand our attention”, their products and services can't be a priority. And our creative resources should be allocated accordingly.  

Design students should not only be taught how to perfect their “problem-solving skills” but also how and why to invest them in the highest value added projects. This added value may appear in the form of stronger communities, cleaner environment, life-changing technologies, healthier lifestyles, better education, a sense of purpose, and personal satisfaction. It is very important for designers to learn to take it into account when deciding where to allocate their personal creative capital. Because it is a limited resource.


Forget Good vs. Evil: Manag...

Newsletter: Share: