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 social networking ever find a working business plan?

Jimmy Wales:  That’s a good question.  I mean, I guess, you know, in large part we’re talking about Facebook when we’re talking about looking for the magic bullet sort of business plan.  On the other hand, I don’t know if Facebook is profitable, I don’t know if they announced that or not, but I know they’re bringing in quite a large amount of money, and they spend it all on trying to make the site better.  So I’m not so sure that they need a magic bullet in order to survive.  Whether they can become sort of huge like Google.  I don’t know.  One of the interesting things about social networking is that it is very different from search in that there’re obvious and very explicit network externalities that you need to be on a certain social network, because all your friends are there.  And to move from that to another social network requires either abandoning your friends, or convincing them to come with you.  It’s non-trivial.  As opposed to if I find a better search engine, I just switch my browser’s default homepage and there I go, I’m off to the races on the new search engine.  SO I think that’s incredibly valuable from a business perspective.  From a consumer perspective, it’s something I would be concerned about.  That we all got locked into Microsoft for a long time, and lots of people still are, because of those same kinds of network externalities.  I needed a Windows computer, because all my friends had a Windows computer.  And that’s a problem.  That’s diminished over time, now.  I have also changed friends, so now I need an Apple computer, because all my friends have an Apple computer.  But the-- I think in the end, you know, we can look at something like MySpace, where there’re just-- I don’t know, in my opinion, they’re just milking it for money right now.  I mean, they monetize it like crazy!  There’s tons of ads all over it.  The whole site’s quite annoying.  Maybe I’m just too old to appreciate MySpace.  I don’t know, but I think there’re some interesting questions.  As far as some interesting and amazing new business models for Facebook, I don’t really see it, but what I do see is they’ve got all this valuable demographic data.  One of the things that we know is valuable for both advertisers and consumers is relevancy.  Certainly, right now Facebook does not particularly show me particularly relevant ads when they do show me ads, so I can’t think they’re performing very well.  But they’re getting better at that.  I mean, they’re getting a lot better of sort of allowing people to figure out who it is that they want to talk to, and who is it that’s receptive to their message, and then showing those ads.  And if they can do that, I think they’ll be very successful.

Recorded on: 04/30/2008

 

Jimmy Wales on a Business M...

Newsletter: Share: