Around the Institute

Resetting the Aspen Ideas Festival Website

February 4, 2011  • Tarek Rizk

We had an exciting conversation yesterday about the forthcoming reset of the Aspen Ideas Festival website, and we wanted to share some of our thinking.

For six years, the Aspen Ideas Festival has been home to thought-provoking conversations and compelling presentations from experts across the spectrum of politics and policy, science and medicine, religion, education, global affairs and economy and business. We have hosted presidents and prime ministers, newsmakers and household names, as well as the “next” experts who go on to catalyze major changes in their fields.

The in-person experience we offer our guests here in Aspen is impossible to replicate, but the conversations that unfold here can still enlighten and inspire viewers no matter where they are. We’ve captured on video or audio many of the incredible talks from Festivals past and made them available through our website at aifestival.org and elsewhere on sites like fora.tv and YouTube.

After collecting years of these conversations, we realized that the way we were presenting the video on our own website wasn’t working for us or for many of our viewers. While the videos can be found, the major issue is that they are organized around the construct of the actual festival itself, by festival year and the tracks inside that festival. We realized that for our online visitors to really enjoy this content, it had to be organized in a common-sense structure around the broad categories that we have revisited over the years. We had to stop seeing the site as just a way to promote the festival’s six mid-summer days and start seeing it as a way to expose new audiences around the world to this great material.

We have also identified a key missing ingredient that we hope to provide with our new site: an opportunity to dig deeper, learn more, take action or inspire others around the information we present. We’ll talk more about that in the weeks to come, but it’s safe to say that one informal Aspen Institute motto is “Thought leading to action,” and we hope to see that happening for visitors to our site.

To that end, we’ve formulated a new design and are now under way with a strategy for developing this innovative design into a new aifestival.org website. There are loads of logistical hurdles remaining as we reset the site, and there will be tons more meetings, reviews, arguments and something like a million or so emails. What we hope to see when we’re through is a fresh way to get acquainted with the impressive array of speakers and conversations we’ve been fortunate to host through the years as well as an innovative approach to taking action inspired by those conversations. Stay tuned.