The Art of Communicating Knowledge in the Digital Age
At PaCCS, we are interested in how animation can be used to communicate insights from research, reaching out to a wider audience. We have invited two small companies -Scriberia & Kindea Labs- providing this service to describe their work in this area.
Animated Research by Kindea Labs
By Jonathan Ezer (Kindea Labs)
The world is a cacophony. With so many voices, competing for attention, it’s tough to be heard.
This is particularly true for researchers. Their ideas are new, complex and highly specialised. So it is tough to communicate in a way that resonates. However, the general public is interested in what goes on in academia. Particularly in fields such as Conflict, Crime & Security, ideas generated by researchers matter to people’s everyday lives, and the public wants to learn about them.
But the public does not read academic journals. So these ideas get stuck, and are never given space to flourish. At Kindea Labs, we are developing a unique approach to communicate complex ideas in a way that resonates. We create animated videos that depict one intricate diagram that grows and unfolds over time. In this way, viewers see how one idea is added to the next, and how each point grows to form a conceptual whole.
Our particular way of explaining complex ideas has been used to communicate research in diverse fields, from economic history to organ transplantation, the impact of Galileo to the future of punishment.
Scientific progress is accelerating. In every field of human endeavor, advances are happening faster than ever. But at the same time, attention spans are shrinking. So the challenge for researchers is not just to develop new knowledge, but also to communicate that knowledge in the digital age.
For more information, please visit www.KindeaLabs.com.
Jonathan Ezer is founder of Kindea Labs. He holds a PhD from the London School of Economics. He’s passionate about intellectual ideas, and has 10 years of management consulting experience.
Animated Research by Scriberia
By Rachel Porter (Scriberia)
We may live in the age of information, but what use is information if it is not accessible, shareable or memorable?
Working out how best to communicate complex ideas is an increasingly important and challenging part of a researcher’s remit. And that’s why we find ourselves in increasing demand with academics of all disciplines.
At Scriberia, we make animations and specialise in using visual imagery to simplify complexity and clarify the obscure. In fact, we enjoy nothing more than turning information that might, at first glance, appear dry and distant, into something really human, relatable, and engaging.
This animated rendition of Stephen Hawking’s big ideas is a prime example. But we know that inside every research paper and every pile of data, there is a compelling story bursting to get out. We also know that when you take a creative approach to telling that story, it will capture its audience.
We’ve been fortunate to work with researchers at universities around the world, to help them share their findings. Through the University of Oxford’s Oxford Sparks project, we continue to work on a series of animations to engage the public with the latest discoveries from the university’s science departments.
So far, we’ve had fun with the electromagnetic spectrum, circadian rhythms, quantum physics and, the latest one, the challenge of switching to greener energy sources. And you can find them all here.
We’ve also enjoyed working on two projects with Oxford’s Department of Computer Science. The first, this short animation on the principles of responsible research and innovation in ICT, commissioned by Professor Marina Jirotka.
And then, more recently, an animation for the Digital Wildfire project, to explain how ‘digital footprints’ are formed: how a picture or a post, shared in haste, lasts forever online and becomes a permanent part of our digital identity. It formed part of the teaching and learning materials devised to promote safe behavior online among nine and 13-year-olds.
Animation gave Professor Jirotka and her team the freedom to visualise abstract concepts, making them instantly tangible and easier to understand. And that is something that all these examples have in common.
So, while animation is still some way from being established practice in academia, as long as the need to communicate complex ideas to the wider world continues to grow, so too will the demand for animation.
Rachel Porter is a former journalist, and now head of content at London animation and illustration studio, Scriberia. The Scriberia team specialise in bespoke animation and illustration that makes light work of sharing information and ideas.</