What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

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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World Renowned Bloggers


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

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Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

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Who Owns Ideas?

The Big Idea for Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's easy to understand who owns an object - for instance, a car. But who owns the technology that powers it? Who owns a piece of music? Artists and innovators are always drawing on the collective achievements of those who came before them, even as they invent new forms of expression and arrive at new breakthroughs. At what point does an insight or a particular arrangement of notes become theirs?

And who should profit from it? How can we see that they do, without limiting access to it? The conflict between authorship and the spread of information is one of the most critical of the 21st century. Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder of the Berkman Center of Internet and Society, believes that free culture allows everyone to participate in the "making of meaning" collectively. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales examines the ethical boundaries of Western companies operating abroad. And Jaron Lanier takes us back to the birth of the web, arguing that the rapid, free expansion of the Internet will ultimately be as self-defeating as the excesses of modern finance.


  1. 1 WTF Wikipedia? What SOPA, PIPA, and the Blackout Mean To You
    Megan Erickson Think Tank
  2. 2 Another Perspective on SOPA: Has Copyright Law Gone Too Far?
    Mark Cheney Think Tank
  3. 3 Jimmy Wales on Smart Censorship
    Jimmy Wales
  4. 4 Why We Should Pay To Search
    Jaron Lanier

Who Owns Ideas?

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