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: Will present-day chores, like laundry, ever become recreational?

Rachel Maines: Well, you know, I wondered about that, I wondered about that myself. I know people who like to wash dishes by hand. I keep thinking that there's tasks that can't be hedonized. In fact, I used to think that ironing couldn't. And then one of my colleagues, Rebecca Hertzel, as a matter of fact, came up to me at a meeting and said, "Have you heard about ExtremeIroning.com?" And I said, "What?" And she said, "ExtremeIroning, you know, just go there, you'll see what I mean." And sure enough, it's hedonized ironing. Now, these people are not really, well, I mean, you could say they're ironing, you know how, you were, some of us, maybe not you, but some of us were taught in home economics class, in my case, how to iron a man's shirt. You start with the yoke, you know, you iron that, and then, boy, I'm going, now I'm going to have trouble remembering. Then I think you do the side with the buttons, the front side of the buttons, then the side with the buttonholes, then the sleeves, and the collar is last. Well, this orthodox of shirt ironing is the rules now of the sport. Sport of extreme ironing. Now, if it makes the Olympics in my lifetime, I'll be very impressed. But it's already pretty, pretty amazing. There's an outfit in Britain called Rowenta that makes irons and they sponsor an annual extreme ironing contest. And the one I have in the book, the example I have in the book, is the Wolfberg Cracks in South Africa, these huge canyons, well, this guy's got himself, and these are interesting, it's mostly guys, this guy has got himself suspended on a tight wire between the Wolfberg Cracks and on his, he's got a harness holding him onto the wire and standing on, he's got the ironing board on his feet and he's ironing this shirt over the Wolfberg Cracks. He was the 2003 winner of the Rowenta Trophy for extreme ironing.

They've got scuba ironers, they've got polar ironers, I can't remember what they all--oh, excuse me, they're called ironists. Ironists. There're like people standing on top of, you know, those very tall signs that they have on freeway gas stations, people, like a whole group of them up there ironing. That's extreme ironing. So you can't tell what's going to be next. Might be washing dishes, cleaning the oven. You know, I have an oven that cleans itself, right? So, you know, there may be people 20 years from now who, "Oh, I just got to get myself some EasyOff so that I can, and a pair of gloves and boy, I'm going to go after my oven, it'll be so much fun!"

Recorded on December 14, 2009
Interviewed by Austin Allen

More from the Big Idea for Saturday, July 07 2012

Today's Big Idea: The Power of Play

The world doesn't need any more spreadsheets, says Jane McGonigal. Tear up your to-do list and play a game this weekend instead. In a recent interview, the video game designer told Big Think th... Read More…


Will Laundry Ever Be Fun?

Newsletter: Share: