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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: Collective Intelligence

The Big Idea for Wednesday, October 31, 2012

While China has enjoyed a remarkable economic growth spurt in recent years, even the most sympathetic Western observers must admit that Beijing has set itself a formidable challenge: to maintain a tightly controlled economy, press, and culture while giving China's citizens sufficient education and global connectivity to remain competitive in world markets. Riots at Foxconn – a technology manufacturing plant heavily used by Apple, corruption scandals at the highest levels of government, frequent rebellions of rural workers, and ongoing battles with outspoken critics like artist/activist Ai Weiwei have revealed Beijing as a leadership in an increasingly untenable position – increasingly threatened by the glimmer of freedom it has allowed its people. 

The internet plays a powerful role in these tensions. In spite of the "Great Firewall" – the Chinese government's ongoing attempts at internet control, millions of people have hacked their way through, making internet policing an increasingly expensive, even ludicrous proposition. This is collective intelligence in action – the coming together of millions of citizens to take the freedom of expression their government refuses them. 


  1. 1 Ai Weiwei: The Internet vs. The Chinese Government
    Ai Weiwei Experts' Corner
  2. 2 The Way of Ai Weiwei – a new blog on Big Think by the most important artist of our time
    Jason Gots
  3. 3 F*** You, Motherland – Ai Weiwei's Mission to Save China From Herself
    Jason Gots Think Tank
  4. 4 Viva La Internet Revolución in Cuba
    Dominic Basulto Endless Innovation

Today's Big Idea: Collectiv...

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