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: Do you have a creative process?

Nancy Koehn: My creative process is not systematic or formulaic. I think I'd be calmer and more peaceful if it was. It never has been. I'm very intrigued by art. And so I think sometimes my … some of my best work has come from seeing a painting; or hearing a piece of music; or in the case of, you know, a sermon, hearing a fabulous sermon from Peter Gomes and seeing a nugget there that led me to see a bunch of other things about my own work, or about the topic I was thinking about in my book, or for my class. I think that's been . . . the nuggets of art, and literature, and music, and great speaking have been incredibly motivating and inspiring for me – always and still are. You know I'm a bit of a … a bit of a sociologist in terms of ideas. That is … I can't remember who said that some of the best sociologists are people who talk to taxi drivers all the time. And I certainly know of folks of mine that used to ask taxi driver for investor tips … investment tips. But I talk to people all the time, and some of my best ideas have come from a very casual conversation. So I have good ears, and I have pretty good antenna. And I use the magpie light and take them and go.

Recorded On: 6/12/07


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