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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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The Big Idea for Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Greatness begets bureaucracy, and bureaucracy is conservative. A DIY (do it yourself) ethos is skeptical or openly defiant of established pathways to success, relying instead on the power of the individual to come up with smart, new solutions. The internet has unleashed an explosion of DIY creativity in every field, and holds the potential for much, much more. A teenager with a cellphone can get three million views on YouTube. A college kid with a computer program can build a company with a $50 billion potential IPO. With industries and economies worldwide in a state of flux, a creative, courageous, self-reliant approach to life is more necessary than ever. 

Even for those in more established, degree-based professions like medicine would do well to take a page from the playbook of self-made men and women like artistic polymath Henry Rollins, comedian Margaret Cho, and neurologist/author Oliver Sacks. DIY living is living courageously and generously – acknowledging your vulnerabilities and taking risks that allow you – and encourage the rest of us – to become bigger, better, and more broad-minded humans. It’s the antithesis of and the antidote to selfishness and all its related evils.




  1. 1 Henry Rollins' Letters to a Young American: Do it Yourself
    Jason Gots Think Tank
  2. 2 Henry Rollins' Letters to a Young American: Live Heroically
    Jason Gots Think Tank
  3. 3 Margaret Cho: Tenacity Wins Out Over Nepotism and Talent
    Megan Erickson Think Tank
  4. 4 Oliver Sacks on Being a Writer/Physician
    Oliver Sacks


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