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

Dear Monsieur President: Don't Screw This Up

May 7, 2012, 6:27 PM

What is the Big Idea?

Dominique Moisi, a special advisor at the French Institute of International Relations, published a few words of advice for president-elect François Hollande in Los Echos.

His first plea: Let's not waste the next five years.

It has been a tough ride, but you've won, thanks in part to your energy, tenacity and confidence. These qualities are essential for winning power -- and even more so, for exercising it.

Your responsibility is huge and can be summed up by a slightly provocative plea: “Please don’t let us waste the next five years.” Neither France nor Europe can afford it. France because it lacks self-confidence, which is feeding populist shifts and protectionist fantasies; Europe because, today more than ever, the European Union is not the problem but the solution. It needs an open, inventive, creative and modern France -- a France that, instead of being a source of worry, is one of hope and recovery.

So please do not set the wrong goals, means and methods in the first weeks of your presidency. France cannot afford the luxury to take the wrong track for two years before pulling itself together. Like the vast majority of the Western world, our country has been living far beyond its means for decades. It has to start over, a clean slate.

The challenge is as much an ethical one, as it is political, economical and social. Without extending social justice, dramatically changing our lifestyles would be simply unacceptable. Fairness and realism go hand in hand. Alas, justice cannot be the sole objective in our globalized, competitive real world. In northern Europe, where countries today serve as our role models, there is no contradiction between social justice and economic liberalism.

What is the Significance?

Moisi brings up some hard lessons the new president needs to absorb about the state of the national and global economy. "France needs dynamic, innovative companies that are able to conquer global markets," writes Moisi. "The state cannot act as a proxy for them."

Both Greece and France showed austerity the door by electing new leadership that rejects government spending cuts, which means Europe might be at the dawn of a new economic agenda. What France needs most right now is creativity, competitiveness and excellence, says Moisi, and government intervention and border control is going to hinder that. 

And here is where the next U.S. president needs to pay attention.

Europe and the U.S. needs to invest in its infrastructure and ramp up its innovation efforts in order to stay competitive with Asia. But when we take into account "the state of our finances and the reasonable and necessary constraints of the European Union, dreaming of simply implementing a big French or European “New Deal” is simply not realistic."

China was not mentioned once during the debates last week. "It was as if the fear of Islam, or the denunciation of how this fear is exaggerated, was the only thing that mattered, instead of having a meaningful discussion about today’s world, of which neither Europe nor the United States is the center," writes Moisi.

Read Moisi's letter in English.


Dear Monsieur President: Do...

Newsletter: Share: