As a repository of videos clips from a broad array of “public intellectuals,” there is much to be admired about Big Think. In particular, its unique social networking tools really add depth to its video content–users can respond to, create, and classify Ideas on the site, participate in the Big Think collaborative blog, and bookmark/post videos of special interest to Digg, Del.ici.ous, and Facebook. Big Think makes each of its videos sharable by providing embedding codes, direct urls, and “Email to a Friend” forms. All of these features are nicely integrated into a very appealing and intuitive design.
What is distinctly missing from Big Think, however, are research tools that would allow thoughtful readers to explore the video commentaries and Ideas in greater depth. Bibliographies, research guides, electronic databases, Online reference sources, speaker publications, links to digital collections, etc., are nowhere to be found. At least some of these are essential if the site is to truly fulfill its pitch as being a “You Tube of Ideas.”
As academic institutions continue to add video content (faculty lectures, TV/films clips, student presentations, etc.) to course Web pages and to create video archives, a great deal can be learned by analyzing the innovative design and interactive elements of projects like Big Think…as long we don’t neglect to include key elements for further research.