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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.

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Top Five Disruptive Search Engines

May 3, 2011, 12:01 PM
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As the Big Three—Google, Bing, and Yahoo—make subtle changes to their search algorithms, a new crop of search engine upstarts are rethinking what it means to search altogether, with the hopes of transforming your relationship to information:

1. Recorded Future - Search is about scanning through information about the past and present, right? Not if Recorded Future has anything to do about it. Compiling all recorded information about future events, this revolutionary "temporal analytics engine" helps you visualize, in text or infographics, everything that has been written about future events, like companies' plans to expand into a new market or tech product releases. But all of this comes with a hefty fee; individual plans start at $149 per month. 

2. Qwiki - The goal of this radical new search tool is to deliver information in a quintessentially human way—via storytelling. Rather than an information dump of text factoids, Qwiki combines Wikipedia, Google, and Youtube to create short, multimedia presentations of the information you search for. 

3. Wolfram Alpha - With the stated goal of "making the world's knowledge computable," this powerful tool created by innovative billionaire-genius Stephen Wolfram does not search the web for information but rather does dynamic computations based on a vast collection of built-in data, algorithms, and methods. Wolfram Alpha hopes to be the definitive site for all factual queries, no matter the discipline. 

4. Wowd - Turning your Facebook page into its own searchable ecosystem, Wowd systematizes the information from your Facebook feed into a tag cloud and lets you search your friends' updates for the information that really matters to you. 

5. Blekko - Essentially a more dynamic Google, Blekko introduces Twitter's idea community-created metadata markers to the search experience. By refining their search with slashtags (similar to hashtags), users can more quickly zero in directly to the information that they want. 

More from the Big Idea for Tuesday, May 03 2011

 

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