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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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Kwame Anthony Appiah, William Powers, and Robert Sutton Interviewed by Big Think

September 19, 2010, 4:19 PM

Princeton philosophy professor Kwame Anthony Appiah stopped by the Big Think offices this past week to talk how the concept of "honor" can be mobilized as a force for change.  Appiah told us how moral revolutions in the past, like the change in attitudes towards dueling, slavery, and foot binding, were motivated not by morality alone but by appealing to individual and national honor. And he explained how this research can be leveraged to promote reform in the most pressing ethical and moral issues of our day, including prison reform, environmental degradation, gay rights, and honor killing. He also weighed in on the "schadenfreude" of watching MTV's "Jersey Shore."

Stanford professor of management Robert Sutton was also interviewed by Big Think about management and boss-style. You can learn a lot from a very bad boss, Sutton said, and there is a near-cult of professionals who base their entire leadership style on trying not to be like a cruel manager they had in the past.  Detailing what it takes to be a good boss—or at least not be a bad boss—Sutton talked about some of the companies are doing this right.  He also spoke about how a boss's management might be quantitatively measured. 

Is perpetual connection through smart phones and computers strangling our inner lives? William Powers, media and technology writer and author of "Hamlet's Blackberry", said in his Big Think interview that we, as a society, are in a connectivity crisis—and its changing our habits and personalities for the worse.  He cited a story of a prominent doctor who faced scorn from his staff for daring to disconnect from email during his vacation.  Moreover, Powers said, phenomena such as the "slow food" movement, nostalgia for records and moleskin notebooks, as well as "nomophobia"—the fear of being without cell phone reception, having "no" access to the "mo"bile phone—are all part and parcel of a technology cycle which we're only in the early stages of. 

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Kwame Anthony Appiah, Willi...

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