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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 is technology changing the world of design?

Antonelli: A designer’s most important role, in my opinion, is to act as interpreters and as translators.  What they do best is they take major scientific and technological revolutions and they transform them so they can be used by people.  And the Internet is the biggest example.  It used to be DARPA was the military complex that formed . . .  It used to be only lines of code.  It’s only when in the ‘80s that the designers of Mosaic designed the first interface that we started being able to use the Internet without any particular preparation, just some training.  So that’s what they do all the time.  Say there is some abstract idea that is really complex.  They . . .  They incorporate it in an object – or in “object” I also mean an interface, not only a physical object – so that we can use it.  And even now what they’re helping us to do is to manage all this technology.  There are many designers – you know one is ___________ – that are really preaching the gospel of simplicity.  The more complex technology becomes, the more we need to have a simple platform to understand it.  So for instance remote controls with fewer buttons that are set in a way that is almost instinctive.  Or the Wii – the Nintendo Wii.  Instead of having game controllers that are 15 buttons, you have sticks that actually use your body; so more gestural interfaces.  That’s what designers do.  They bring new technology back to our more . . . most ancestral habits.


How is technology changing ...

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