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


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


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

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


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
With rendition switcher


Question: How can social networking sites help businesses?

Reid Hoffman:  So, most people when they think of kind of professional networking and social networking sites, they think of recruiting.  And recruiting is obviously a very strong utility, both for people looking for jobs in companies, and companies looking to get, you know, high quality talent into the company.  But in addition to that, these sites, you know, mostly on the professional networking, really helps with everything from, for example, if an individual professional is reaching out to other professionals to know, you know, what are good technologies, tools, techniques, in order to stay current in their professionalism and their job, finding experts in order to help solve problems, say for example, a distribution problem.

So, you know, like one of the success cases at LinkedIn was this guy figuring out how to move 12 million tons of cement from, you know, China to Dubai.  You know, getting all of that kind of network competitive intelligence for every individual professional as a way to how to execute your job is one of the really key things for a good competitive advantage.

When thinking about how to deploy kind of professional and social networking into your business, it’s really not a question of if, it’s a question of when.  And the reason is, just think about the fact that those businesses that adopt new technologies to operate efficiently and use them to get a competitive edge are the businesses that in fact, you know, it becomes one more competitive advantage.  Whether it’s a fax machine or a mobile phone or a new way of doing financing or any of these things, you know, these are key things to do.

So, the key question is not to try to look for excuses as to, “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s a fad, I’ll put it off,” but to think about what do you think will be actually there in the future and then arrive at the future early in order to establish a competitive advantage against your competitors.  And that’s both true as an individual, because every individual is essentially now a small business and entrepreneur and as a business, as a collection of businesses.  And these are, I think this is a key thing of like which piece of these technology do I need to adopt and then adopt them early in order to get a competitive advantage.

Question: Can social networking ever be detrimental to businesses?

Reid Hoffman:  You know, people generally worry about social networking more than they need to.  In kind of consumer internet investing and on social and professional networks, I kind of look at time spending and time efficiency.  You know, time saving sites.  So on time spending sites, things where you play lots of games or that sort of thing, you might worry about a productivity loss if people are spending a lot of time doing that.  So if there’s a lot of kind of addictive gaming going on during work hours, that won’t be as helpful to you.

Whereas things that help you get your job done better or help you get, you know, stay informed, you know, know what current, you know, kind of professional success is, those can be helpful.

So the risks really kind of come down to, are there ways that this will essentially end up taking a lot of time from employees as opposed to giving them  leverage and scale.

Recorded on August 11, 2009

More from the Big Idea for Thursday, April 25 2013

The Rules of Power

Who gets to define success? Harvard Business School’s Robert Steven Kaplan argues in his new book, What You're Really Meant to Do: A Roadmap for Reaching Your Unique Potential, that success is ... Read More…


Reid Hoffman’s Argument for...

Newsletter: Share: