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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Question: Beyond a simple title, how would you describe what you do?


Carl Pope: Well hmm.  That’s a good question.  I mean I can tell you what I do on a daily basis.  I can tell you . . .  I mean I raise money.  I talk to the media.  We’ve got 800,000 members; 34,000 active volunteers; 450 staff people.  I’m kind of the mahout who sits on top of the elephant with this thing in my hand called an ankus.  And I poke the elephant in the left ear if I want it to go right.  And maybe the elephant goes right and maybe it doesn’t.  And I’m not in charge of the elephant.  I’m quite clear on that.  The elephant’s a lot bigger than I am.  But I think that my craft is how you take public values and the attitudes and temperaments of leaders in our democracy and make those leaders do what the public wants, whether or not it’s for that reason or not.  I mean my job is to take what the public wants government to do and somehow cajole government into doing it.  And that’s an imperfect craft, and the last couple of years have been interesting.  A lot of things that were pretty predictable have gotten much less predictable.


Recorded on: 9/27/07


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