On Big-Idea Books


At the Atlantic, Marshall Poe discusses his attempt to write a “big-idea book” about Wikipedia, and how he ended up with a “book of ideas” instead.

“Years of academic research taught me two things. First, reality is as complicated as it is, not as complicated as we want it to be. Some phenomena have an irreducible complexity that will defeat any big-idea effort at simplification. Detailed research has, not surprisingly, cast doubt on the reality of wise crowds, tipping points, and long tails. Second, most of the easy big questions about the way the world works have been answered. The questions that remain are really hard. Big ideas, then, can only reinvent the wheel or make magical claims.”

(Via The Book Bench)

Lisa Dusenbery is the former managing editor of The Rumpus. More from this author →