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.

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

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Culture and Communication

The Big Idea for Sunday, March 04, 2012

There are less technological and physical barriers to cultural exchange than ever before. Ideas, people, things are constantly moving across borders in our increasingly global society. But transactions are one thing. Communication is another. Transactions are about the fulfillment of economic needs. Communication, on the other hand, requires empathy, learning, arriving at a consensus.

Is there such a thing as universal truth? Is it even possible to understand someone from another culture? Renowned translator David Bellos examines this question. We hear from him directly in an excerpt from his book, Is That a Fish in Your Ear?, in which he looks at the history of language and translation. In a recent video interview, Bellos spoke to Big Think about how translation is a transformative act. Learning another language teaches us the limits and possibilities of intercultural communication. We see this all around us--the Oscar nominated film, Avatar, is in fact an example, he says. 



  1. 1 Avatar: What's Lost (And Found) In Translation
    Megan Erickson Think Tank
  2. 2 How Many Words Do We Have For Coffee?
    David Bellos Experts' Corner
  3. 3 How Do You Talk to an Alien?
    Daniel Honan Re-Envision
  4. 4 How to Win Friends and Influence People All Over The World
    Big Think Editors Think Tank

Culture and Communication

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