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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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Storytelling

The Big Idea for Friday, February 17, 2012

Cognitive science has long recognized narrative as a basic organizing principle of memory. From early childhood on, we tell ourselves stories about our actions and experiences. We are the heroes of these tales, our trials and victories the stuff of epic legend. Accuracy is not the main objective – coherence is. If traumatized, our minds will invent things that never happened, people who don't exist, simply to fill in the gaps of memory and hold the narrative together.

It is no wonder, then, that narrative fiction and nonfiction, in the form of novels, biographies, reality tv, even advertisements have such lasting power to hold our attention and embed themselves in our long-term memory – a power that we can harness for good, for evil, and/or for profit.

The Big Think, Short Fiction Contest is an experiment in using big ideas to inspire powerful storytelling. The short stories of author Nathan Englander explore the contradictions, absurdities, and sublime beauty of ordinary people's lives. And neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga studies how storytelling works in the brain

Perspectives

  1. 1 It's Here!
    Jason Gots Think Tank
  2. 2 Nathan Englander and The Myth of the Tortured Writer
    Jason Gots Think Tank
  3. 3 Video Games and the Future of Storytelling
    Salman Rushdie
  4. 4 Your Storytelling Brain
    Jason Gots Think Tank
 

Storytelling

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