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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.

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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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Josh Ritter: The Guitar Is America

May 4, 2010, 12:00 AM
"The idea of America is that we all have our own unique voices...and that’s the same as guitar. Guitar is not an instrument that's stuck in a canon, or stuck in a particular form." As an instrument of democratic self-expression, the guitar has been Josh Ritter's best friend. Having once taken an aptitude test that predicted he'd be "an undertaker or a plumber, or somebody who worked in the woods," Ritter instead found his voice as one of today's most acclaimed folk rock musicians. He shares that voice, both in conversation and song, in his Big Think interview.

With his sixth studio album, "So Runs the World Away," debuting today, Ritter discusses the changes his songwriting has undergone since his early career and the effortless quality—like that of a perfectly tailored suit—he strives to achieve in each song. As a special demonstration, he breaks out his guitar and plays a single off the new album: the mellow, lyrical "Change of Time."

Ritter also reflects on the current upheaval in the music industry, pointing out that tanking album sales have forced musicians to rock harder in concert, since "that's the only way now" to make money in the business. And while he marvels at the connection a show can create between performer and audience, he offers a few wise words to Twittering rock stars who try to maintain that connection 24/7 online: "Don't overstay your welcome."

Image courtesy Mike Ritter.

Josh Ritter: The Guitar Is ...

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