Video - Øyvind Olsholt at TEDx Transmedia 2012 - ‘Rethinking Entertainment: Philosophy As Evocative Fun’


Øyvind Olsholt is a Norwegian kids’ philosopher. He has worked in the field of philosophy for children since 1997. In 2000, he co-founded Children and Youth Philosophers ( and has since participated in a number of philosophy projects for kindergartens, schools and museums. He has arranged philosophical summer camps for children and a weekly philosophy club for children.

He is co-author of the books Philosophy in School (1999) and Philosophical Dialogues in Kindergarten (2008).

At TEDx Transmedia, Øyvind argued that philosophical practice could provide a means to ‘rethink entertainment.’ 

Short film featuring interviews with TEDx Transmedia 2012 speakers

Interviews with kids’ philosopher Øyvind Olsholt, transmedia storyteller Alison Norrington, games writer Rhianna Pratchett and TEDx Transmedia Curator, Nicoletta Iacobacci, all feature in this English-Italian short made at TEDx Transmedia 2012. 


Media and technology will change in the future – probably beyond all recognition – but I don’t think the essence of entertainment will. As long as the seven deadly sins prey on the human heart – and one of those deadly sins, “sloth” (laziness), exists – there will always be a demand for escapist, carefree fun. And no doubt there will always be political activists that look to entertainment to “change the world.”

Fortunately, there will always be philosophy. Philosophy is not “escapist” nor “activist;” it’s evocative. It awakens the mind by challenge and surprise, questions and answers. True, it can never promise to “save the world.” But it may prevent us from becoming a media consuming couch potato.

Øyvind Olsholt, TEDx Transmedia 2012, Rome.

When kids attempt to answer philosophical questions they enter completely unknown territory. It’s touch-and-go, they need to be creative. At the same time, creativity and impulse is constantly challenged by a stream of critical and logical follow-up questions. The result is an intellectual process of discovery.

Øyvind Olsholt, TEDx Transmedia 2012, Rome.

Fun and quirky facts about our TEDx Transmedia 2012 speakers

A collation of fun and quirky facts about our TEDx Transmedia 2012 speakers so you can get to know them a bit better. Enjoy! 


SPEAKER FACT 1: Producer of ideas, Saku Tuominen, won a silver medal in the Old Timers (35+) World Championships in Ice Hockey. But not only is he an elite sportsman, he also has some enviable culinary skills and produces his own Olive Oil.


SPEAKER FACT 2: Peter Espersen, Online Community Lead for LEGO, is a huge heavy metal music fan, which might just account for the long metalhead hair style? He was once at a Rollins Band punk concert when the lead singer dived into the crowd and began biting the leg of the guy he was stood next to. Peter only noticed when the man started screaming.


SPEAKER FACT 3: Josh Shore, filmmaker, transmedia producer and founder of the Guerrilla News Network, practises meditation whilst scuba diving (!) and is a big fan of Minimal Techno… 


SPEAKER FACT 4: Games writer Rhianna Pratchett has just launched Narrativia - a new film, TV and digital production company. The company is a partnership with her fantasy author father, Terry Pratchett, and collaborators Rob Wilkins and Rod Brown. First projects are the adaption of Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman and an adaption of The Watch, also by Terry Pratchett.


SPEAKER FACT 5: Author Alison Norrington left business cards for her character inside shoes in shoe shops to help attract an audience for her chick lit transmedia story Staying Single.


SPEAKER FACT 6: Robert Tercek, one of the world’s most prolific creators of interactive content, has had some really exciting work in his life. We are very enamoured by the fact he got to work on the visual design for the Rolling Stones Steel Wheels tour early on in his career. Wonder if he’ll have any inside gossip on the rock and roll worlds of Mick, Keith, Ronnie and Charlie?


SPEAKER FACT 7: Ana Serrano, founding Director of the Canadian Film Centre Media Lab, has an unusual hobby: she sings in operatic style and often to her son Néo. 


SPEAKER FACT 8: Philosopher for children, Øyvind Olsholt, is a pianist and currently learning Swan Lake to play for his young daughter while she practises her ballet dancing.


SPEAKER FACT 9: Maurice Wheeler, of the Little Big Partnership, gives a funny talk on goal setting and measurement inspired by the fact he lost nearly half his body weight in just over a year, going from a massive XXXL (20st 10lb) to a slight and lithe M (around 11st)! You can check out his talk ‘Using Measurement To Motivate’ here:


SPEAKER FACT 10: Derrick de Kerckhove, world-leading thinker on technology and mass media, has a fascination with the alphabet and once co-edited a book which scientifically assesses the impact of the Western alphabet on the physiology and psychology of human cognition. 


SPEAKER FACT 11: Poonacha Machaiah, CEO at the Qyuki social network for creativity, rides his motorcycles as a means to clear his mind. He regularly braves Bangalore’s crazy traffic, on his classic 1950s-style 500cc Royal Enfield or Yamaha R1, en route to work. He’s explored most of south India on a bike and plans to take a long journey into the Himalayas next year. 


SPEAKER FACT 12: Social Designer Andrew Shea has a wandering spirit and has been on many travelling adventures around the world. Some of his most memorable include: hitchhiking from Mexico to Memphis, and hanging out with a Bushman, in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, who was wearing the same Michael Jordan T-shirt Andrew owned as a kid.


SPEAKER FACT 13: Rosalía Lloret, Chief Digital Officer at PRISA News, worked closely with the Huffington Post to bring the American brand to Spain.

Fun facts sourced and compiled by Hannah Wood. 

"Philosophical practice is in many respects a play, similar to chess or football." Q&A with children’s philosopher and TEDx Transmedia 2012 speaker Øyvind Olsholt

Here’s a Q&A that will get you thinking.

Norwegian philosopher for children and TEDx Transmedia 2012 speaker, Øyvind Olsholt, is approaching the event from a very different angle from everyone else. We had the pleasure of catching up with him and learning about his philosophical practice, his thoughts on what adults and kids can learn from one another and the importance of philosophy in life.    

Register for TEDx Transmedia 2012 to see Øyvind live.

Hi Øyvind, what do you think of the term Transmedia?

I hadn’t heard about Transmedia until Nicoletta invited me to this conference. It qualifies the concept ‘media’ in a way that is ambiguous. ‘Trans’ can mean across, beyond, through, change etc. The term probably has clearer denotations in professional contexts. For me as a lay person it just means ‘a plurality of media.’

Since 1997, you’ve worked full-time with philosophy for children. How did you get involved in philosophy for children? What do you do and why is philosophy for children important?

My wife, Ariane Schjelderup, and I are both philosophers with Masters degrees from the University of Oslo. When we first began, we didn’t know very much about the international movement called P4C—Philosophy for Children. At the time we were using philosophical dialogues as a technique to help children talk about philosophical questions that mattered to them. But we sensed already back then that there is more to philosophy than technique and method—as there is more to dialogue than words.

Many people today are quite convinced that their children are philosophical, or at least that they can be, if stimulated in the right way. Most parents and teachers today know that their child is a virtual goldmine of fundamental questions, philosophical wonderment and innocent originality. So when a brand-new method enters the scene promising to detect and reveal these hidden, philosophical qualities in the child—just like the Philosophy for Children-programme promises to do—it is usually met with unanimous, and mostly uncritical, approval.

But the uncritical embracing of any method may function as a comfortable safeguard against a closer focus on ourselves and our role as parents and educators. Clinging too strongly to a method makes it very easy to forget about ourselves, makes it very easy to leave out the questioning of paradigms and prejudices unconsciously underpinning our adult lives.

We feel insecure and incapable without a celebrated method to lean on and rely on. And quite naturally we don’t want this insecurity to show, especially not in front of children (perhaps). But in our opinion it would be far better if we dared to be more honest in this respect, if we engaged more in the demanding and challenging philosophy itself than in the method of how to utilise philosophy, if we were more concerned with the child staring at us in the front row than the prospect of it’s future intellectual achievements promised by the method. It is much more difficult of course, but also much more rewarding in the end.

We believe that philosophy must therefore become a way of life, a continuous belief in the puzzling nature of human life—a belief that involves the adult’s life too! Then we would perhaps finally grasp the underlying identity between adult and child: that we are all truth-seeking human beings. Then we would perhaps realise that openness, questioning and wonder—the cornerstones of philosophical dialogue—ultimately spring from the Socratic insight: I know that I know nothing—and not from any pedagogical programme. Like Socrates we would have understood that our questioning and wonder is a way to seek the truth itself, and that we seek the truth itself because we know that we can never really possess the truth.

Existentially speaking there’s no difference between children and adults: we are all ignorant and therefore in search of the truth about our lives. If we’re not in search of this truth, it is generally not because we have found the truth, but because we have forgotten about our ignorance. This often happens with adults, but seldom with children. 

It isn’t quite enough to learn about philosophy or to learn how to be a philosophical catalyst in a pedagogical context. Rather we must ourselves become philosophers in our own life. And as philosophers we should of course not pretend that we know what we don’t know, nor pretend that we do not know what we actually do know. And what then does a philosopher really know? In the end only this (not surprisingly): that he—like Socrates—doesn’t know anything!

When we talk with children, there are certain principles or rules that we try to observe. And not only observe: ideally these principles ought to be an integral part of our whole personality. They shouldn’t just be a mask we put on before a session. They are 1) Seeking the universal 2) Equality of contributions and 3) Voluntary participation.

Are children receptive to philosophy? Is it important for their development in life? 

Yes, kids are very receptive to thinking. And of course, they don’t need to “receive” the thinking, they are perfectly able to think for themselves. But not all thinking is philosophical thinking. Kids have lots of opinions and they love to express themselves but they are somewhat less keen on a time-consuming examination of the ideas. That’s why it is important to introduce them to the exercise of philosophy, the sooner the better, to make them acquainted with a reflective way of life. Philosophical practice is in many respects a play, similar to chess or football, and as such it has an appeal to kids as well.

What do you think adults can learn from children?

Spontaneity and a sense of here-and-now. But the reverse question should always be asked along with the first one: what can children learn from adults?

What can children learn from adults? 

A lot, for instance patience and self-discipline. And the interesting thing is that philosophy for kids, which is a practice based on the assumption that kids are autonomous and independent thinkers, fosters not only creativity, a willingness to change outlook and the like, but also what seems to be opposite qualities: perseverance, endurance, tenacity etc. Many, not all, adults have learned to combine these different qualities and through philosophical practice kids can experience for themselves how the two can go together.

Nowadays, kids wake up and reach for their phone to check their emails, Twitter, Facebook and messages in bed. Is this a good thing?

If the reaching out for these gadgets in the morning means that they have become the most important things in their life I think it has gone too far (not a good thing).

What is the impact of growing up completely immersed in digital technology? 

Who knows? And the fact that nobody really knows should make us go forward cautiously and prudently. We should not overdo things even if everything, at the moment, seems to work satisfactorily, indeed, even if the technology gives us the greatest pleasure here and now.

How significant is your Norwegian heritage in your work?

You mean the skeptical, pessimistic, puritanical outlook on life and people? It’s there I guess.

What did you want to be as a kid? What were your dreams and aspirations?

I wanted to be a concert pianist. And here I am today: a mere philosopher. So much for dreams and aspirations. :)

Many people find philosophy on one hand inspiring and on the other hand esoteric and hard to grapple with and understand. Do you think philosophy should be more accessible?

Not really. Rather, people should be taught how not to flee from challenges and difficulties, intellectual or otherwise. The words of philosopher T. W. Adorno are interesting here: retention of strangeness is the only antidote to estrangement.

What inspires you?

That which burns with an inner, invisible flame, or rather, the flame itself.

The theme of this year’s TEDx Transmedia, WEKids, is about harnessing child-like wonder and courage to make meaningful media that has a social impact. Do you see potential in that approach? 

I rather like the idea that harnessing is a necessary ingredient in order to create meaning. But I don’t understand why something that is meaningful must also have a social impact. Isn’t a meaningful experience enough in itself?

The subheading is Dreamers, Geeks, Mindshifters; which do you most identify with and why?

Well, what do I come across as so far?

I’m not sure but I think Mindshifter? Am I wrong?

Nicoletta, having read my presentation, put me in the Dreamer category right away. I guess I am a bit of both. After all, if one is a dreamer and one’s dreams are strong and appear convincing it is only natural to wish to share them with others. That does not mean that one tries to shift other people’s minds but still, when sharing a dream it is unavoidable to influence others in one way or another.

TEDTalks are renowned for their inspiration, energy and focus on the personal. Can you give us a taster of what you want to bring to Rome?

Do you mean a taster of what I am going to say or how I am going to say it? The former is work in progress and the latter is difficult to show in writing. But I can promise you one thing: I will not focus on the personal.

What do you see as the future of Transmedia storytelling? What possibilities are there in a networked world?

Philosophers deal with arguments, definitions, examples, counterexamples and the like. They are not into storytelling. On the other hand, a clear and controversial analysis can be as great and exciting as any story.

What in your life are you most passionate about?

Oh, the invisible flame that just keeps burning - unchanged by circumstance.

And something a bit more personal (if you don’t mind?), what do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I still play the piano. At the moment I am rehearsing the Swan Lake for my little daughter who is an aspiring ballet dancer.

Interview by Hannah Wood

TEDx Transmedia 2012: A taste of what the speakers will say…

With a month to go before TEDx Transmedia 2012 opens in Rome we can reveal more detail about our exciting programme of speakers and the ideas and vision they are bringing to the event. 

The theme is WEkids: Dreamers, Geeks, Mindshifters and through it we seek to awaken the free spirit and courage of the inner child. We want to have fun and inspire you to create great media of the future!

The speakers are divided into Dreamer, Geek and Mindshifter session and each bring a unique energy to this special TEDx conference on September 28. 


Alison Norrington: Storyworlds Inventor

Alison, a novelist and transmedia strategist, will open the event and highlight the narrative power of non-linear stories through her personal experiences and those of her colleagues in the industry, from Hollywood to publishing. She’ll demonstrate how you build a robust Transmedia IP.

Poonacha Machaiah: Spiritual Technologist 

Poonacha, CEO of Qyuki, will focus on the need of the hour to have “purposeful technology” that can inspire generations to make positive changes in their communities.

Øyvind Olsholt: Kids’ Philosopher

Øyvind, a Norwegian children’s philosopher, will argue for philosophy as “evocative entertainment” and a focus on, not what “turns him on” in a physical or psychological sense but what challenges his intellect.

Rosalía Lloret: Multifaceted Journalist

Rosalía, the Chief Digital Officer for PRISA News, will explore how, when a new media is born and becomes successful, media gurus usually forecast either the deterioration of the human being and society because of the new media, or – if they like the new thing – the immediate death of any previous media industry. She’ll claim they’re wrong.


Maurice Wheeler: Youth Scholar

Maurice, with his 15 years of experience working with industry giants like Disney, Microsoft, Nintendo, Nichelodeon, Universal and Procter & Gamble, will analyze the different stages of child development, focusing in particular on the difficult generation tween (no longer a child and not yet a adolescent) and showing how difficult it is to communicate and create engaging content and success for this specific audience.

Ana Serrano: Experience Mastermind

Ana Serrano, Canadian director of the Media Lab at the Canadian Film Centre, will reveal how being a geek, a dreamer and charismatic futurist may contribute to the development of collaborative environments, useful for the creative transformation of our ecosystem.

Andrew Shea: Social Designer

Andrew, writer, designer and educator, will demonstrate how design and graphics can be used to disrupt our habits and make us more socially responsible.

Rhianna Pratchett: Narrative Paramedic

Rhianna, one of the queens of writing for games, will discuss how the word writer is quickly becoming an archaic term almost detrimental to the writers themselves, who should carve out a new role in the video game industry. 

Peter Espersen: Play Leader

Peter, Online Community Leader 13 + LEGO Group, will present case histories on how Lego failed to attract fans adults, as well as how it’s creating and managing communities online, using all the resources of social media. 


Saku Tuominen: Stargazing Idealist 

Saku, a Finnish TV producer who has won more than 30 awards, will seek to understand the meaning of life through dreams. Despite “hating” the term transmedia, he’ll explore how passion becomes a bold idea and then how to work hard to make a passion happen.

Josh Shore: Catalyst Filmmaker

Josh, a filmmaker, television producer and a catalyst of socially transformative communities, will ask a series of challenging questions about transmedia products and how to make them indispensable.

Derrick de Kerckhove: Digital Visionary

Derrick, who worked closely with Marshall McLuhan and is currently Professor of the Department of French at the University of Toronto and the Department of Sociology at the University Federico II of Naples, will show that technology not only intervenes in our social relations, but also in our nervous systems, creating new connections between body and machine that will result in new responsibilities.

Robert Tercek: Creative Activist

Robert, one of the world’s most prolific creators of interactive content, will argue that we are waking up from a “60-year trance” where we have outsourced our storytelling and become “wasted” by consumption. He’ll show how participatory media has given back the power to tell stories and answer some of the world’s urgent questions. 

Find out more about the speakers and register for the event at

Latest News: TEDxTransmedia 2012 Speakers with a Difference


TEDxTransmedia 2012 is not your average conference about media. Nor is its focus solely on non-linear storytelling and transmedia.

This is a conference with that TED magic that asks speakers to tell personal stories in creative talks that will inspire you to think about future media - and the road to it - in new and exciting ways. 

That’s why we bring you speakers from a range of different professions, walks of life and countries. Some have no obvious connection to transmedia, but all have ideas and visions worth spreading. 

If you’re wondering what TED and TEDx are then visit the About section of our official website for the lowdown. 

The awesome Dreamers, Geeks and Mindshifters we have selected for TEDxTransmedia 2012 are (you have to click Read More to find out….:)

Read More