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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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Nicholas Lemann: Well first of all, you know, every younger generation faces challenges. And one of the advantages of learning history is it gets you over the temptation to be ahistorical and think . . . You know when I entered journalism at a salaried level, it was considered an existential crisis time in journalism. Now it’s considered an existential crisis time in journalism. What’s going on now is you have a . . . I mean the big thing that’s going on . . . Probably the biggest thing that’s going on is the advent of the Internet, which is as a delivery system for journalism.  As a delivery system for journalism, the most important thing to come along since television. And that has, you know . . . It’s a challenge for us at the school, and it’s a huge part of the life of what we do and what our graduates will do after they graduate. Partly because of the Internet there’s two other things going on, which is one, a change in the economic model for reporters who work for salaries, which is evolving in ways that we can’t be sure of, but it’s evolving. And then the second is an effacement of borders. It used to be that most journalism was pretty local really, and journalism took place within community. And that’s less and less true. It’s . . . American journalism is more national, certainly on the Web, and it’s also more international.


Recorded on: 11/30/07






Nicholas Lemann: What chall...

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