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

Making Sense of the Retro-Digital Movement

January 5, 2011, 10:14 PM

Apple Store Frankfurt Hipstamatic
We're experiencing a retro-digital (or is post-digital?) movement in the tech world: just today, I read about a gaming company (Discovery Bay Games) that has figured out to convert your bright, shiny Apple iPad into the type of tabletop board game that you played decades ago. That's not all: think yellowed-out Hipstamatic photos that look like they were taken with a Polaroid rather than a 6-megapixel digital camera; aggressively anachronistic smart phone ring tones that sound like old telephones; iPad and Twitter apps that duplicate the look and feel of newspapers (newspapers!); and modern videogames that re-create the look and feel of 8-bit games like Pac-Man or Asteroids. And, of course, my favorite - an iPad carrying case that looks like a big, dusty, smelly book. So what gives?

One explanation is that young digital hipsters are purposely embracing these analog anachronisms as an ironic cultural statement. Another possible explanation is that older Baby Boomers have embraced the Internet in sizable enough numbers that they are now directly impacting digital culture in the same way that they have impacted every other aspect of culture. The same way that it now makes perfect sense that 70-year-old musicians are playing halftime shows at the Super Bowl, it makes sense that digitally-minded Baby Boomers are waxing nostalgic about the good ol' days of land lines, wires and clunky floppy drives.

The final explanation is perhaps the most logical -- that the retro-digital movement is actually a sign that the digital and analog worlds, so long separated, are now becoming one. The Internet is no longer something that divides generations, or something that is somehow separate from our everyday life. When 80-year-old grandmothers are on Facebook and young kids are toting around Wi-Fi enabled iPads instead of backpacks you know that the Internet is almost as ubiquitous as electricity. There are no longer "online campaigns" or "offline campaigns," there are just campaigns.

image: Apple Store @ Frankfurt Hipstamatic via U1D2X on Flickr


Making Sense of the Retro-D...

Newsletter: Share: