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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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Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

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

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Today's Big Idea: Revolutionary Handbook

The Big Idea for Friday, December 14, 2012

Everything is art. Everything is politics. So says Ai Weiwei, the most relevant artist in the world who China is trying to make irrelevant and Big Think is doing everything we can can to thumb our nose back at that authoritarian regime. 

Hey odds makers: do you want to put your money on Big Think or China?

"In addition to being a guide on how to live life," writes Bob Duggan in today's big idea for 2013. The Chinese dissident's new book, Weiwei-isms works as a guide on how to make art. Ai Weiwei writes: “We see plenty of artistic work that reflects superficial social conditions, but very little work that questions fundamental values." Ai Weiwei defines being a modern artist as “a symbolic thing,” ala Marcel Duchamp. “After Duchamp,” he writes, “I realized that being an artist is more about a lifestyle and an attitude than producing some product.”

Ai Weiwei, however, denies that his actions comprise some elaborate “performance art”: “It’s really life and death [not art].” All life is art, so how can you categorize any part of it as a “performance”? Ai Weiwei sounds the most Duchampian when he says that “[t]radition is only a readymade. It’s for us to make a new gesture—to use it as a reference, more as a starting point than conclusion,” hence the paradoxes of a modern artist channeling Confucius and a series of Tweets and online writings converted into old school, dead tree books. Life, art, and politics are all what you make of them—starting points in a race to serve the human race.

 

Perspectives

  1. 1 How to Take Ai Weiwei With You Wherever You Go
    Bob Duggan Picture This
  2. 2 Dispatches from the Police State – #1: The Internet is Constantly Putting the Chinese Government on Trial
    Ai Weiwei
  3. 3 Chance Encounters: An Interview With Ai Weiwei Documentary Filmmaker Alison Klayman
    An Phung Think Tank
  4. 4 Ai Weiwei: The Price of China's Success
    Ai Weiwei
 

Today's Big Idea: Revolutio...

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