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

Is There Any Escaping Facebook?

February 1, 2011, 4:18 PM

As if ruling the Web weren’t enough, Facebook has now begun to dominate other media. "The Social Network," Hollywood’s fictionalized portrayal of site founder Mark Zuckerberg, has grossed $213 million to date and was recently nominated for eight Academy Awards. Zuckerberg himself was named Time magazine’s 2010 Person of the Year. On TV, CNBC profiled the company earlier this month in its documentary "The Facebook Obsession." And so on. As the site’s ubiquity dovetails with continuing concerns about its commitment to user privacy, it may be time to ask: is Facebook inescapable?

According to NYU telecommunications professor Clay Shirky, the answer is a resounding yes. In his interviews with Big Think, Shirky has repeatedly argued that Facebook and other social media are becoming permanently woven into our society’s fabric. Even as of a few years ago, Shirky says, “I had to make a case at the beginning of any given talk that…the social stuff wasn’t all just going to be teens on Facebook…[it’s] going to become generally, culturally important.” The influence of social media in Obama’s election changed all that.

It's a trend Shirky doesn't think will reverse anytime soon, even as periodic outcries over user privacy management (or mismanagement) continue to dog the company. Says Shirky "I think Facebook is going to be fine. Facebook has a long history of planning a change in the service that's good for them in some way or another, overstepping their bounds, apologizing and scaling back—but not scaling back to the point they were before the change. In a way, Facebook now uses the overstep-apology-reaction pattern as a way of saying how far they can go at any given cultural moment."

Speaking of cultural moments, Shirky doesn’t think it’s really Facebook itself we’re all fretting about. Like Napster in the 1990s, it’s just the scapegoat du jour for our fears about the Internet itself. And if "The Social Network" can be believed, Zuckerberg serenely accepts all this, having been mentored by Napster’s co-founder, the charismatic Justin Tim—er, Sean Parker. Like peer-to-peer file sharing, social networking is definitely here to stay. Whether Facebook itself will continue to boom, however—or whether, as a company, it will go the way of Napster—remains to be seen. But given it's recent $82 billion valuation, it's not going anywhere anytime soon.


Is There Any Escaping Faceb...

Newsletter: Share: