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

191 - Un-Austria

October 18, 2007, 5:23 AM


“This work uses real statistics on Austria to create an image of Austria,” Babak Fakhamzadeh here on his website about this work, ‘Numbers’, that he created for Paraflows in Vienna, demonstrating a concept called ‘un-space’:

“Statistics, representing a real-life environment are, by their very nature, an un-space, as they only exist on paper. For example, the statistic that 1% of Austrians are members of voluntary environmental organizations is nothing but a number and doesn’t say anything about each individual living in Austria, except in general terms, on an abstract level.” “However, these numbers, these statistics, create a representation of a physical space, Austria, therefore pretending that statistics can actually be representative for a real life construct.”

To take ‘un-space’ up on its own premise, let’s just imagine an Austria in which, quite literally…

• All of the 4,9% Austrians who are unemployed live close to the Slovakian border, not far from Bratislava. For every 1.000 Austrians, a ghostly half-priest stalks an area enclaved in between this Arbeitslosenland and Slovakia. • A small area just south of Unemployed Country houses the 2,2% of Austrians who are actually Serbians. • In the south of the country, probably in a gated community and with screwed to the front of their houses the most expensive alarm installations their plundered coffers could afford, live the 3,1% of Austrians who’ve been the victim of a property crime – or theft, as they called it in the olden days. • Rarther inconveniently located in Carinthia and Styria, some of the most vertically-challenging parts of the country, are the 9,1% who love their Apfelstrudel too much. Think of all those ample Austrians having tho heave themselves over hill and dale to get to the nearest shop. Fortunately, the Alp meadows are stocked with purple cows, made completely out of chocolate. • The half percent of Austrians using amphetamines are tucked away near Bregenz, close to the Swiss border, next to that other undesirable element, the 7% “not proud of their nationality”, tucked away in Tyrol - which is ironic, since Tyroleans are usually a bit more nationalistic than the average Austrian (or so I’ve been told by an Austrian).

Cannabis users (3%), Muslims (4,7%) and volunteers (3%) each occupy a slice of Austria’s north, with illiterates (2%) holding on to the core of the Heimat. Just for fun,

I’m trying to picture a border crossing between each of these entities inside ‘un-Austria’: The sternly disapproving gaze of pious, bearded customs officers in skullcaps and halal Lederhosen, directed at their giggling slacker colleagues in the nearby booth, actually encourages their incontrollable bouts of laughter. The volunteer side of the border crossing sits unmanned, allowing thousands to cross unchecked, while the illiterate officers, frustrated at not being able to find anything wrong with any of those passports, have to wave all of them through.


191 - Un-Austria

Newsletter: Share: