Thursday, March 11, 2010

There Is No Cure For Curiosity

Before the Internet, most of us read the same newspaper in the morning and sat down to watch the same TV news over dinner. There was a good chance we’d be exposed to people, ideas and opinions that challenged us … arguing with (or at) the television was a common occurrence. Workplace banter often revolved around news reports we had all read or seen and affected us in different ways.

That doesn't happen as much now because people often only consume the news and information that upholds their existing worldview. This, in turn, leads us to an ever-expanding galaxy of like-minded websites, blogs, video, and Twitter and Facebook pages that construct a kind of virtual cocoon. We may think that this cascade of information is making us smarter, but because of this filter effect – it brings with it the risk of narrowing our minds.

Bigthink.com is a great antidote for this kind of complacency. The site features video interviews with a truly impressive roll-call of experts and entertainers, authors and auteurs: John Irving on advice to aspiring novelists; Chris Anderson on the power of the consumer; Eliot Spitzer on redemption; Ariana Huffington on what keeps her up at night (“that we are the next Pompeii”), Richard Florida on urban theory. There is an incredible array of physicists, mathematicians, philosophers, business innovators and gurus of all persuasions. The interviews, which are presented in full along with transcripts, are long, in-depth and always thought-provoking. They are a great respite from the sound-bite saturation of the daily news cycle. As food for thought, bigthink.com is an all-you-can-eat buffet.

This is a great place to spend some time, to delve deep, discover new ideas and challenge old ones. The site features a quote from Dorothy Parker that sums it up: "Curiosity is the cure for boredom. There is no cure for curiosity."

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