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: What should the writer’s role in society be?

Isabel Allende: Tell stories.  Gather stories and tell them.  Personally, I don’t feel I have a mission that I have to preach about anything.  I write about things I care for, the things I believe.  And I just want to tell a story.  Why have I chosen that story in particular and not another one?  Why I have never chose a story about Wall Street, for example? Because it has nothing to do with me.  It doesn’t touch me in any way.  And I chose stories of strong women, of marginal people, of violence, and death, and loss, and love, and friendship, because that’s what really has been important in my life.  So, the person I am and what I think sort of filters in through the lines, but I’m not trying to deliver any kind of mission, and I don’t think I have a mission—except telling a story. 

Isn’t your work with your foundation part of a mission?

Isabel Allende: But that is not my writing.  That is my life.  And you asked me about my writing.  And as a citizen, as a human being, as a woman, I think I do have an obligation and a mission to help my sisters.  I'm very privileged.  I had education, health care, I have a husband that loves me and I’ve never been beaten up, I have had a good life.  And I have had, of course, losses like everybody does, but my life has not been bad.  And in my lifetime, I have lived the struggle of feminism for 50 years.  And I see that not everything that we thought would be achieved by now has been achieved.  There is still a lot of work to be done and I want to be part of that work.  So, that’s what my foundation does.  We work in empowerment of women and girls in the areas of health care, protection, and education.

Recorded on May 3, 2010
Interviewed by Priya George

More from the Big Idea for Monday, June 28 2010


The Writer’s Role in Society

Newsletter: Share: