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.
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What's the Latest Development?
Published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is a study in which Carnegie Mellon researchers attempted to influence some customers' electricity usage using a very simple tactic: They sent postcards informing them only that their consumption would be tracked for one month. Compared to a control group, who didn't receive the postcards, the tracked group reduced their usage by an average of 2.7 percent. Even though the postcards gave no additional information or instruction, customers included some common changes in habits in a follow-up survey. These included turning off lights when not in use (69.6 percent) and turning off the air conditioning (45.8 percent).
What's the Big Idea?
The researchers wanted to see if a common behavioral reaction known as the Hawthorne effect -- which basically states that people tend to change their behavior when they know they're being watched -- could help make customers more aware of their energy consumption. Unfortunately, while the reduced usage and the corresponding methods employed were encouraging, customers largely returned to their old habits after they thought the experiment had ended.
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