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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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Couch Potato

March 8, 2010, 5:36 AM
A collection of house plants have been installed in a fifth-floor space at the AC Institute in Chelsea, with a video screen above their head as part of the television-for-plants-project. The house plants are watching a six-and-a-half-minute looped video of a beautiful Italian sky at night. And visitors are being urged to bring along their own pet plants to watch the show. “Jon Keats—that really is his given name—has mastered an expression so sincere that one begins to suspect him of irony. With that look embossed on his face, he explained to a visitor, the other day, that television for plants was an extension of an earlier project to make pornography for plants. ‘Pornography is where every filmmaker starts out,’ he said evenly, ‘and in my case I was making pornography for plants by filming bees pollinating flowers.’ There were two different shows of plant porn: one in Chico, California, for about a hundred rhododendrons, and one at Montana State University, for as many zinnias. ‘I knew that the act of pollination was the most titillating experience for plants,’ Keats said. ‘So I spent a couple of days on the ground, seeing how light and shadow were experienced from their perspective. Once I had a very stark black-and-white image—sun up high, bees flying by. I let it run for a month, and let the plants experience vicarious sex. And let people stand at the periphery and giggle nervously.’”

Couch Potato

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