Drawing you in

Looking for a way to give your pet theory some legs on the internet? The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) in the UK has an idea. Actually the RSA has had many, many ideas over its 250 years of promoting “a progressive, inclusive and capable society” — including the reform of prostitutes, integration of women in the arts and invention, improving agriculture and the harnessing of energy.

For some time RSA has been creating animations overlaying edited versions of taped lectures by the likes of Slavoj Zizek, David Harvey, Jeremy Rifkin, and Barbara Ehrenreich. It’s a clever way to disseminate ideas — the animations act as a lively accompaniment with their own gentle little dramas. Have a look, for example, of this treatment of Ken Robinson discussing changing educational paradigms:

Right? One can’t help but think that all those poor unengaged students could rouse out of their medicated torpor if only ideas were always so animated. It seems fitting that an RSA lecture would pay particular attention to the plight of children caught up in industrial death-in-life. After all, this is the same Society that solicited inventors in 1797 to come up with ways of sweeping chimneys that did not depend on little children. And that gives us more than enough occasion to look at a contemporaneous multimedia attempt to convey the plight of blighted children:

William Blake's The Chimney Sweeper, in Songs of Experience

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