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 is your working method like?

Tim O’Brien: I write every day.  I get up around 5:00 or so and get two little kids off to school, and then I go to work around 9:00 and work until 4:00 or so.  And then do it pretty much every da

Question: What is your working method like?

Tim O’Brien: I write every day.  I get up around 5:00 or so and get two little kids off to school, and then I go to work around 9:00 and work until 4:00 or so.  And then do it pretty much every day.

Question: Does the work ever get any easier?

Tim O’Brien: Oh, I wish.  No it doesn’t get any easier.  It gets harder, in fact, because you can’t write the same book, and that’s always tempting.  The making of sentences is hard work.  You can’t copy your own sentences and you can’t copy those of others, and so you’re searching for a certain grace and a certain rhythm and melody that’s underneath the prose that carries the story.

Question: What mistakes do you try to avoid in writing?

Tim O’Brien: Great question.  The first answer that pops to my head is absolutism, certainty.  I am certain about very little in this world and I distrust those who are.  If I feel the stink and the smell of blinders and of pomposity and pretentiousness that for me accompanies certainty—a little bit of hypocrisy also weaves its way through absolutism.  And there’s so much of it around, it’s on television, every talk show seems to have it.  And in the real world, I’m always encountering people who declare things about the world I live in with a certainty that I just don’t see around me.  And in my writing, that shows.  That’s why the issue of truth appears so much throughout all of my books, that I’m skeptical of what’s declared to be true.

Recorded March 22, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen


Washing Off the Stink of Po...

Newsletter: Share: