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.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

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

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

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

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

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.

Find out more
Close
With rendition switcher

Transcript

Question: Will the form of the novel have to change to accommodate the digital age?

Jonathan Safran Foer: Of course it will change, and anybody that thinks it won’t is not thinking it through enough.  The New York Times is now on the iPad, right.  If The New York Times didn’t have video embedded in it, if you couldn’t link from one article to another, if you couldn’t search back issues of The Times, if they had a piece about this unbelievable shot that, you know, Rafael Nadal hit and they didn’t have a clip of it, we would say that it was being negligent.  Not only that it wasn’t taking advantage of the vehicle, but that it wasn’t providing us with the news that it could and should.  

And so there’s going to be a real pressure on novels when they start to be read on screens—which seems like an inevitability—to interact with the vehicle.  I don’t know what that will mean.  I certainly don’t know that that’s a good thing at all.  There are a lot of reasons to think that it’s a bad thing.  But it seems like an inevitability, and literature has always been slow.  Slower than the other art forms to grapple with... technological changes, cultural changes even. You know, when you look at a book like "Freedom," Jonathan Franzen’s most recent book, there are many, many ways in which it could resemble "The Odyssey," or Shakespeare.  And I think that’s one of the things that people love so much about it, and should love so much about it.  But if you look at artists who are not contemporary artists who are at the sort of peak of their game or the forefront of their forms, what they have in common with artists working 100 years ago, much less a couple thousand years ago, is almost nothing.  You know, music has changed so much in the last 50 years.  And the visual arts are barely even recognizable as art anymore.  So maybe it’s been the saving grace of literature to be so conservative, but maybe it will contribute to its death.  I don’t know.

Recorded on August 26, 2010
Interviewed by Max Miller

More from the Big Idea for Tuesday, February 15 2011

 

Can the Novel Survive the i...

Newsletter: Share: