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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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Today's Big Idea: Big Data

The Big Idea for Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Thus far, the people who seem to be making the most effective use of "Big Data" – that rich stream of information we're sharing online – are advertisers. A host of Silicon Valley marketing businesses have sprung up in recent years, offering sophisticated algorithms for helping retailers connect with the consumers who are most likely to purchase their products. 

Big Data is being leveraged in education, too, to gather classroom-level information on teacher and student performance. These efforts, while they enjoy bipartisan support at the Federal and State levels, have met with mixed reviews from parents and teachers – the data and the tests used to gather it, many say, are a crude representation of educational reality. 

But the wealth of data the cloud is gathering on every aspect of our lives is accumulating and increasing in specificity. Every sector of society will be making use of it in one way or another in the coming years. The crucial question is how we can put Big Data to work to address global inequality and improve our overall quality of life. 


  1. 1 A Stunning Vision of our Interoperable Future
    Daniel Altman Econ201
  2. 2 There’s Enough Math in Finance Already. What’s Missing is Imagination.
    Jason Gots Think Tank
  3. 3 School Reform: Rise of the Machines
    Jason Gots Think Tank
  4. 4 The Mathematics of Happiness?
    Jason Gots Think Tank

Today's Big Idea: Big Data

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