Ingenuity, Webby and Fellow (no, it's not a new design consultancy) - RSA

Ingenuity, Webby and Fellow (no, it's not a new design consultancy)


  • Design

One of my more successful posts in recent times invited people to comment or tweet in exchange for a free copy of Jamie Young’s RSA pamphlet on ingenuity. I think we ended up sending out about 80 copies and from this are also building a network of people interested in the idea.

Jamie distinguishes ingenuity from innovation in general by reference to the frugal use of resources. Ingenuity also involves surprising combinations. I guess, therefore, that RSA Animate is our very own example of ingenuity in action.

The idea of putting together an edited version of a speech (using existing material) with the animation skills of Andrew Park at Cognitive Media (using an existing technique but applying it differently) was an intuitive leap by a member of staff.  Now Animate is a global phenomenon with getting on for twenty million lecture views in not much more than the last year.

The latest accolade is for RSA Animate to be shortlisted for a Webby, which is the on-line equivalent of an Oscar. The Webbys are more democratic than the Oscars so anyone can vote. So please vote for Animate here  and I promise if anyone from the RSA goes to LA to receive the award it won’t be me but a much more deserving member of our brilliant events team.

RSA Animate was a stroke of genius and it may turn out that no one else can find a cleverer, more compelling better way of visualising ideas. But if you think you can, there will soon be an opportunity to prove it. We have secured funding to create an Animate Mark 2 prize (it won’t be called this) and I will make sure to share the details on this site when they are announced to the world.

It will be fascinating to see the entries. I recently spoke to someone at the British Film Institute who told me she had been looking to fund something like Animate for twenty years (not that she had any money now!). She was sceptical about whether Animate could be matched let alone surpassed.

Given that Animate came from a leap of imagination but the prize will encourage people to think of presenting lecture ideas in new ways as a problem and then to work out a solution, it will be interesting to compare the fruits of the two different processes.           

But in case anyone thinks that in boasting of the 20 million views I am being too self-satisfied about the RSA here is a less comforting statistic: fewer than a quarter of RSA Fellows have watched an Animate! This is despite the generally very positive feedback in our Fellows’ survey (some of which I have passed on in earlier posts).

So after you’ve voted in the Webby’s, and after you’ve told your friends to as well, maybe you can tell any FRSA you know about the joys of Animate.

But perhaps this is a failure of imagination on my part. Imagine if instead of converting Fellows to Animate we could convert fans of Animate to becoming Fellows.

That way we could take over the world.……

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