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

Kenneth Cukier: Datafication refers to the fact that we’re looking at more aspects of life that we never actually understood as being informational before.  And finding out that that in fact there is an informational quality to it that we can render into a data format. So what we’re seeing with social media companies is they’re actually datafying aspects of the life that we never really saw that could be datafied.  So for example Facebook datafies our friendships. Twitter datafies our whispers or maybe our stray thoughts.  And LinkedIn datafies our professional contacts.  And more and more and more are we seeing that we’re able to take the daily interactions of living, things that we never really saw that can be rendered into a data format and we’re putting it into data formats.

Now what does this mean in the big picture?  The fact is we’re just at the outset of the big data era.  So we’re gonna find out.  But you can just use your imagination and think of some of the extraordinary uses.  One way that we’re doing it is looking at who contacts whom on Twitter and who’s one’s followers are.  And we’re able to identify that, and we never known this before that subpopulations exist that are either immunized for the flu or are not.  Now it’s a public health issue.  The whole point of vaccinations is that you take a broad population, you vaccinate many but not all and everyone is covered.

What we’ve just now learned with Twitter is that this idea of herd immunity might not be the case because there’s whole subgroups of the population that all don’t get vaccinated yet they all hang out together.  They do virtually and we’re seeing that those virtual ties are also physical ties.  I want to stress this sounds like it might be an intuitive thing.  It’s not.  It sounds like this might just be a nice thing to know, it’s deadly important.  It’s very serious.

And it took datafying relationships and interactions to learn it.  So when you think about it in the grand scheme, what big data means is we are able to learn things about ourselves at the population level, at a huge scale, that we never could in the past.  So lots of different disciplines, in one case sociology, totally gets upended.  Because in the past you ran small studies on small groups, now you’re looking at it in population scale size.

Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd

 

 

The Birth of Datafication

Newsletter: Share: