The World Has Deep Areas of Expertise. We Need Agility and Context

How do we mitigate the isolating effects of specialization and create a common space where people in every field can share ideas?

Most academics work alongside other academics in the same field to arrive at the deepest possible understanding of a particular subject. At the MIT Media Lab, researchers focus on breadth, not depth, of knowledge. 


The mission of the Media Lab - symbolized by its glass walls - is to mitigate the isolating effects of specialization by creating a common space where brilliant people in every field can share ideas, English major to mathematician.

That is why, in a lesson on Big Think Edge, the only forum on YouTube designed to help you get the skills you need to be successful in a rapidly changing world, Ito, the MIT Media Lab's executive director, says “the world is full of expertise, what it lacks is agility and context.”

Sign up for a free trial subscription on Big Think Edge and watch Ito's lesson here:

In Ito's lesson on Big Think Edge, we consider the following questions:
- How much interdepartmental collaboration happens in your organization?
- What are the structures that support or thwart interdepartmental collaboration in your organization?
- Does innovation in your company come from the top? Or is it encouraged at every level? 
In this lesson, you will learn to:

Leverage the Diversity of Team Members

  • Identify and respond to the individual needs and contributions of your team members.

  • Promote access to information resources; each team member is responsible for his or her own context.

  • Synthesize the diverse talents with the group.

  • Channel the collective momentum.

  • Organize for agility.

  • Take your team to the next level.

    For expert video content to inspire, engage and motivate your employees, visit Big Think Edge

    Watch the video below and sign up for your free trial to Big Think Edge today. 

    Image courtesy of Shutterstock

    Why a federal judge ordered White House to restore Jim Acosta's press badge

    A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration likely violated the reporter's Fifth Amendment rights when it stripped his press credentials earlier this month.

    WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
    Politics & Current Affairs
    • Acosta will be allowed to return to the White House on Friday.
    • The judge described the ruling as narrow, and didn't rule one way or the other on violations of the First Amendment.
    • The case is still open, and the administration may choose to appeal the ruling.
    Keep reading Show less

    How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

    Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

    Image: Dicken Schrader
    Strange Maps
    • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
    • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
    • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
    Keep reading Show less

    Water may be an inevitable result of the process that forms rocky planets

    New research identifies an unexpected source for some of earth's water.

    Surprising Science
    • A lot of Earth's water is asteroidal in origin, but some of it may come from dissolved solar nebula gas.
    • Our planet hides majority of its water inside: two oceans in the mantle and 4–5 in the core.
    • New reason to suspect that water is abundant throughout the universe.
    Keep reading Show less