Five years ago today, Big Think first launched to the public. What a five years it’s been! We’ve had some of the world’s most influential, significant, radical thinkers through our doors. And these doors have changed several times over.
My business partner Victoria Brown and I began this project sitting in a cubicle at an architectural firm in Lower Manhattan. It was just the two of us there amidst the relics of old decaying buildings that the architects were studying and trying to figure out how to improve. That was actually a very fitting place to begin our endeavor, which is about how to improve some of the decaying relics of how people think and what people think about. Our mission, from the beginning, is to help people get smarter, faster.
Our founding idea is that in a world in which you do increasingly less with your hands and increasingly more with your head, the media needs to utterly recalibrate what it thinks is worth your time, and how it can deliver knowledge to you through new mediums.
So we spent several years organizing a team and developing Big Think into what it has become known for today. We help extraordinary minds impart their wisdom through short, compact, elegantly filmed video vignettes.
In addition to the videos, we’ve developed a robust, and growing blog roll with diverse writers, from Dr. Michio Kaku to Satoshi Kanazawa to David Berreby. We have Strange Maps by Frank Jacobs and countless others. All of these contributors help fulfill Big Think’s core mission of getting smarter, faster.
Now we have our own studio just off Union Square, and big plans for the future. And that is what I want to share with you now, because Big Think is about to embark on the next phase of our journey.
We will take Big Think as you know it today and open our doors to go deeper and wider. We will continue to focus on big ideas, and then, help you put the ideas into practice. Our aim is to answer the question, How can big ideas be turned into action?
To that end, we are developing two new platforms Edge and Mentor. Edge is a corporate and institutional focused initiative. It is intended to help organizations motivate and engage their employees. How? Through rethinking how they understand who their employees are, and what their employees need and want to learn in order to flourish and thrive in a 21st century knowledge economy. It has been modeled and inspired by what Google has done with Google University.
We think that companies far beyond Google can benefit from a sensibility that says employees are people who need to be cultivated personally and professionally. People want to learn more than just marginal skills, about how to understand some new accounting practice or regulation. People want ideas that they can take from their work to their home life and bring back to work the next day. We believe these ideas can be delivered in engaging and powerful ways. What we have in Edge now is the first prototype that we have developed with the help of many big thinkers. We are confident that Edge is going to resonate with employees and employers alike.
I invite you to sample some of this extraordinary offering for free. John Seely Brown is one of the experts whose insights on learning have been invaluable to us during the development of this platform. In a video lesson full of surprising and counterintuitive insights, Brown demonstrates what surfers can teach CEOs about collaborative learning.
Watch the video here.
Our second learning platform is Mentor, which is built on similar principles as Edge, yet aimed at the lifelong learning needs of individuals for personal and professional growth. Focusing on four core areas – Wisdom, Longevity, Prosperity, and Bliss, Mentor can teach you how to become an unstoppable artist-entrepreneur, how nanotechnology will soon transform your everyday life, and how to short-circuit your brain’s natural tendencies to self-deceive. Mentor will listen closely to its users’ feedback and evolve accordingly, adding new experts and lessons to teach the skills users want to learn.
We’re poised to launch a Kickstarter campaign to build the community support we need to create our own subscription platform, which we’ll roll out in the spring. We see an enormous opportunity to turn Big Think into a classroom for life. This is an idea that has inspired us throughout the last five years and we are excited to now see it play out.
And we invite you, our global community of big thinkers, to join us on this journey, and tell us what you would like to see, and how we might best deliver these ideas to you.
President and co-founder, Big Think