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

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

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
Close

Big Idea for 2012: Taming the Wild West that is the World Wide Web

December 20, 2011, 1:48 PM
Censorship

What's the Big Idea?

A lot has been made of the fact that tools like Facebook and Twitter aided the uprisings known as the Arab Spring, which was one of the biggest stories of 2011. Now government push back to social media is growing, and promises to be a big story in 2012.

Take Somalia, where the barbaric, yet technologically savvy group called the Shabab have "imposed a draconian version of Islam" that involves, according to The New York Times, "yanking out gold teeth, beheading shopkeepers, sawing off arms and stoning adulterers." This group's Twitter account -- which features tweets that are mostly in English -- has 4,600 followers. U.S. officials worry the account is targeting potential recruits in the U.S. Already several Americans have blown themselves up as suicide bombers in Somalia, and the worry is that others could be trained in Somalia and then return to America to commit acts of violence.

While the U.S. government has been mum about exactly what it might do, officials told the Times they are "exploring legal options to shut down the Shabab’s new Twitter account, potentially opening a debate over the line between free speech and support for terrorism."

Over in India, Communications Minister Kapil Sibal has caused a stir by suggesting the Indian government take action in response to the inaction of companies like Facebook to stem derogatory material such as "offensive religious content that could cause ethnic or inter-communal conflict," according to NPR.

Next, consider the recent effort in the U.S. to pass the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which was written to protect intellectual property but which critics charge amounts to online censorship.  

What's the Significance?

If 2010 was the year of Wikileaks, and 2011 was the year of the Twitter Revolutions, will the pendulum swing back in 2012? As outlined above, efforts are in place to curb perceived abuses, whether it is online privacy, cyber-bullying, or acts with potentially catastrophic outcomes, including terrorism.

If certain interventions are necessary, the question is how far should they go. This debate is not a new one. One side of the argument is this: what is the security cost of living in a free society? The other side of the argument is this: how far are we willing to bend our online freedoms in order to prohibit the worst behavior? While we have had this debate before, what is changing is the context. Have the unbridled freedoms of the Web made life in the 21st century too dangerous? Can we afford to continue on the same course? What are the necessary protections that must be put in place?

What do you think? And what do you think will be the most significant idea for 2012?

More from the Big Idea for Monday, January 23 2012

Global Risks

Income disparity, online connectivity and weakening regulations will be some of the talking points for business leaders, experts and policy makers at the World Economic Forum taking place in Davos... Read More…

 

Big Idea for 2012: Taming t...

Newsletter: Share: