The Blog

Check Out BigThink, and Think About the Big Trends

In brijit on Monday, 7 January 2008 at 23:45

A hearty welcome to BigThink, a self-styled “YouTube for ideas, which made a splash today in a NY Times piece, and then this evening on TechCrunch.

Tim Arango pegged his Times story around BigThink’s investors (former Treasury Secretary and ex-Harvard president Larry Summers and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, among others), and painted a pretty Ivory Tower, highfalutin picture of the venture. Erick Schonfeld goes more than 800 words in his evenhanded look on TechCrunch, making fair criticisms of the site’s interface, and comparing it with (Disclosure — I know Don Baer, one of’s board members.)

Kudos to BigThink founder Peter Hopkins on the launch, and the great coverage.

But the more interesting story, the one I would have liked to see in the Times or TechCrunch, is the trend story. BigThink is an example of a company carving out a quality-content business in a post-YouTube, post-Digg, lewd-and-loopy-win world. Whether or not BigThink’s model is exactly the right one, or if they’ll execute, remains to be seen. But they’re trying to do something interesting, and I can’t help but applaud the effort.

Anyone who’s spent any time around Brijit will understand why I like BigThink conceptually:

They’re embracing unique, smart content with an eye toward making it accessible to a mainstream audience. They don’t seem to be dumbing it down.

They’re taking a hybrid approach to content creation. They seem to be committing to high quality by employing internal editors and house-produced segments, while at the same time seeking to tap into all benefits of community-generated content and the wisdom of crowds.

They’re looking at big long-form ideas from trusted sources and boiling them down for a short-form world.

I sense a trend…

  1. I couldn’t agree more with how important and necessary this statement is: “They’re embracing unique, smart content with an eye toward making it accessible to a mainstream audience.”

    I have created a Facebook group helping to promote Big Think. I truly hope they can make it.

    Best of luck!

  2. Please check out my blog posting for a critique of BigThink’s use of “experts.” I am very hopeful that the site will evolve to include perspectives from non-elite experts (rather than just pundits, captains of industry, Big Names, and politicians) because, if it does, it could be a powerful agent of change.

  3. If you like Big Think, you should check out another newly launched site, Although lacking video content of famous academics, has a much more thorough engagement with intellectual ideas. The site includes comprehensive blogs of Harvard courses, including Social Thought in Modern America and another extraordinarily popular class, called Justice. The site also includes in-depth annotations of great works of literature, philosophy, and history with an innovative linking system.

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