RSA Animate - 21st century enlightenment

RSA's Animate videos -- in which a talented illustrator draws images as as a speaker presents a topic -- are incredible. In this one, "Matthew Taylor explores the meaning of 21st century enlightenment, how the idea might help us meet the challenges we face today, and the role that can be played by organisations such as the RSA."

RSA Animate - 21st century enlightenment


  1. RSA? Rivest-Shamir-Adleman? Republic of South Africa? Following the information, from

    For over 250 years the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has been a cradle of enlightenment thinking and a force for social progress. Our approach is multi-disciplinary, politically independent and combines cutting edge research and policy development with practical action.

    Well OK then.

  2. Is he really animating as the speaker talks or is it a bit of “slight of hand” animation video editing? Where the art is totally finished and then through video editing the hand and use of masks it looks like he is drawing.

  3. Very nicely presented, wonderful food for thought.

    But on the depressing side, look at how just the word “empathy” was turned into a hateful invective just last year when President Obama used it, once, in describing one of the qualities he sought in a Supreme Court nominee.

    Now try talking about a more empathic culture, and the screaming heads will fill the world with noise.

  4. These are my favorite posts on Boing Boing.

    Always educational and informative on top of being entertaining.

  5. I really enjoy these videos. The talks are presented like a lecture and then the artist “illustrates” them after the fact. I have searched all over the RSA site and I can’t find a credit for the illustrator. Anyone know?

  6. The RSA is one of those great institutions you can join in London, which enable you to say to people “let’s meet at my club”.

    Membership fees are pretty reasonable (£150), considering you get somewhere to work for a few hours in peace and quiet, all the educational stuff, a place for entertaining people *and* opportunities to rub shoulders with the great and the good.

  7. I’ve seen some other RSA Animate videos, but this one is a bit substandard for my liking, it’s basically writing down the words of the wordy speech. The one on motivation was better IMO, e.g. it had the picture of the 3 different pay-grades which made visualization easier.

    1. While, as a whole I love this series, I have to agree with netsharc in saying that the earlier ones were probably better. It seems that the style is suffering slightly from its success as they’re introducing more post-production animation, and more sped-up sections. In the earlier videos, the animation seemed to add, or explain points raised in the lecture, while this one seemed simply to find any illustration that fit. This might, of course, simply be a matter of the lecture not fitting the format as well as previous examples.

  8. it’s comment on race and immigration suffer from the presentism. Race relations are certainly better now and anti-immigration sentiment is at a recent high, but that ignores the fact that the theory of race had to be invented and the fact that at various other times in British or American history, xenophobia has in fact been higher.

    Other than that, it’s great. I probably would have just worded those sentences slightly different, but that’s because of my pet peeves and personal belief against the chronological notion of progress and the so-called “whig interpretation of history”.

  9. Problem with these is that the speaker speaks in a tempo that is good if all you do is listen to what he says. If you ask me to follow along both with that and those wonderful drawings at the same time, I’m just not going to remember much of what the talk is about.

    The same concept but slower, as a collaboration between the illustrator and speaker would be perfect.

  10. I really liked the Empathic Civilization animation. How might I purchase a copy? Are there pages to print? I would love to use this in my work too. Thanks!

  11. I work with a small visual communications company, and I’ve been working on a similar style of visual storytelling, where images and text unfold to compliment speaking. Feel free to have a look at our YouTube page and contact me if you have questions about approach or pricing. I’d also love any thoughts that people might have on our work.

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