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

How Facebook Could Save Search Technology

May 3, 2011, 12:00 AM

This idea was suggested by Big Think Delphi Fellow and Microsoft researcher Meredith Ringel Morris.

What's the Big Idea?

In the next four years, we will create more information than in all the years of human history combined. Clearly, we must come up with a more effective system for filtering this flood of information, and search engines are currently pinning their hopes on the social graph.

Why Is It Groundbreaking?

In the early 2000s, Google unseated AltaVista, once the world's leading search engine, by counting links to and from a website as votes in favor of that site. But a decade later, this algorithm has been rendered obsolete by paid links, content farms, and other "optimization" techniques crafted to game the system. Put simply, search is broken, and everyone is grasping for a potential fix. 

The integration of search with social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter has emerged as the most promising solution, at least to date. Search upstart Blekko and Microsoft's Bing have incorporated Facebook likes into their search rankings, effectively adding human curation to the previously mechanistic algorithm. Meanwhile, Google, the world's leading search engine, has followed suit, unveiling its "+1" button as an alternate way of flagging quality content. There are even signs that Facebook could be positioning itself to launch a social search platform of its own. 

Why Should You Care?

Aside from creating a more pleasant and more effective search experience, these changes could, if successful, reshape the whole landscape of the web, disincentivizing spam sites and so-called "shallow" content site. Gaining more power to bring quality content to the fore, consumers will in turn be rewarded with better web experiences. And, as Vadim Lavrusik reports on Mashable, social media could be the shot in the arm to quality journalism that is needed in our Huffington Post-age. Highly aware of their internet personas, people will be more likely to share content that reflects well on them—serious journalism as opposed to gossip pieces—he argues.  

Still, it is businesses that will likely be most affected. A whole industry has sprung up around search engine optimization, and revamping of fundamental algorithms could undermine these companies' strategies. Businesses will need to be flexible in their approach to promoting content to consumers. 

In a perfect world, this would result in a marked increase in the quality of web content. Then again, this new approach will have its own biases and weaknesses; it would be unwise to underestimate entrepreneurs' ability to exploit them.


How Facebook Could Save Sea...

Newsletter: Share: