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.

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

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Question: Who are you?

Nicholas Lemann: My name is Nicholas Lemann. I grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana and it shaped me a lot. I . . . My family has lived in Southern Louisiana since 1836. So I grew up in a place where I had very deep roots and a lot of . . . a small nuclear family but a large extended family and a very strong sense of place. So I grew up in . . . I was born several months after the Brown v. Board of Education decision, so I really grew up during the Civil Rights era. And that had a big effect on me, particularly being in a Black majority city in the deep South. And I guess another thing that had an effect on me is even before Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans was a declining city. Relative to other American big cities, New Orleans probably peaked in about 1850. In absolute terms it, you know, through most of my life has been a city with problems. So I watched the so called sunbelt phenomenon happen all around New Orleans, and watched New Orleans not be part of it.





Nicholas Lemann: Who are you?

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