It’s rare to meet a Londoner these days who hasn’t heard of TED, the nonprofit dedicated to Ideas Worth Spreading. Younger viewers like me, however, have long been craving something with a bit more bite. We like to listen, but we prefer to engage, interact and argue. Enter IAI TV. With a focus on lively philosophical debate and speakers that range from very famous to completely unknown, there is a real sense of freshness, discovery and excitement about it. Director and founder Hilary Lawson opens up about the project and what it is all about.
V: What exactly is IAI TV?
HL: It’s a site dedicated to offering cutting-edge debate and talks from the world’s leading thinkers, free for everyone. It’s all about getting people to engage with the big ideas at the heart of our lives.
V: Why did you set up IAI TV?
HL: I felt that the world had changed. There was a sense of impending global crisis that was motivating people to ask what it is to be human, why we are here and how we might live. I wanted to create a site that dealt with these questions head on, one which would offer a space to emerging and established thinkers alike and one that prioritized ideas. IAI TV is all about making philosophy more accessible and helping us to answer the big questions.
V: What sort of speakers have been involved in your debates?
HL: We’ve had a broad range of speakers, some of which are household names and some of which are lesser known. The IAI is not about celebrity, but about finding individuals with something genuinely interesting to say. In all of our debates, we prioritize subject matter and ideas over the individuals included. That’s why visitors encounter the titles of our debates first, and the participants second. Speakers have ranged from Brian Eno, Giles Fraser, Bjorn Lomborg, Ziauddin Sardar, David Blunkett, Peter Singer, Pete Lawrence, Suzanne Moore, Steven Pinker and Mary Midgley to Ruth Padel, Terry Eagleton, Raymond Tallis, Angie Hobbs, Jim Al-Khalili, Ben Hammersley, Vince Cable, Jez Butterworth, Rachel Armstrong, Steve Fuller, Susan Greenfield, Richard Sennett, Philip Pullman, Michael Eavis, Bianca Jagger, James Lovelock, Mark Haddon and Luce Irigaray and literally hundreds more!
V: How does IAI TV compare to something like TED?
HL: IAI TV is all about disseminating new ideas and encouraging people to engage and interact with these ideas online. Unlike TED, IAI TV is focused on debate. It’s at the very heart of what we do. At IAI TV, we are also pioneering ‘intelligent interaction’, a completely original element that allows IAI TV viewers to jump between sections of debate and interact with the material in new ways. People don’t always have the time or inclination to watch a whole debate, so we are enabling them to access ideas in a more convenient way.
V: How would you like to see IAI TV developing in the future?
HL: IAI TV will continue to offer a platform to those individuals prioritizing new ways of thinking. As the site grows even further, and as viewers interact more fully with the site, via our new ‘intelligent interaction’ tool, our blogs and our discussion boards on social media, this platform will become even more significant in terms of bringing new ideas to bigger global audiences.
Words by Olivia Greene
For more information, see iai.tv