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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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Question: How do you contribute?


David Patrick Columbia: The impact my work has in the world? Golly, I don’t know what impact what I have. In my writing and my reporting, I try to put a positive point of view on what I write. Because I also can be regarded as what you might say very, very, pessimistic because of human behavior. So I think that the only impact that I’m aware of is that people think I’m very nice. And when I say “impact” – I don’t think I’m very nice incidentally – but when I say “impact”, I think it’s not a bad idea for people to see that you can assert yourself in the world, and at the same time be not unkind.

I’m very wary of the word “proud” I have to tell you. It makes me little nuts because people say they’re proud of this and they’re proud of that. I just think that what we do is just part of our own natural evolution. I have to say that sometimes at the end of the day when my New York Social Diary is on the Internet and I look at it, I am delighted by it. And so I guess you could say I’m proud of it.

There will always be some kind of social journalism because people are interested in other people. And also the nature of social journalism is very much related to the nature of aspiration and inspiration. And all of us at one time or another – and maybe all the time – need all the nurturing we can get so that we are aspiring and inspiring. That’s how we get to produce a lot of the things we produce.


Conducted on: October 29, 2007



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