TED Conversations

Simone Ines Lackerbauer

Freelancer and Student, ProSiebenSat.1 Games

TEDCRED 100+

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Change Through Imagination and Fiction: we need to communicate our ideas & visions to make them real.

I have been fascinated by the way how ideas and visions, especially related to new technologies, are communicated in real life (TED Talks, scientific conferences, academe) and in fiction (science fiction, cyberculture). I want to explore certain aspects of creativity, fiction, and technological utopia -- visions of the future, fuelled by innovation, new technologies, gadgets, visions, dreams, rumors related to high-tech and small-scale technologies.

One of my hypotheses is that we need imagination and fiction to communicate our visions in order to foster change; for better or worse. Every innvoation starts as pure fiction, so the more we imagine and envision, the more we will be able to innovate and to channel our imagination for positive change.

A commercial example: Steve Jobs had a very particular idea about personal computers and gadgets; the systems he built (as opposed to the ones Steve Wozniak favored) were (and are) "closed" systems, communicating a vision of completedness and a certain digital lifestyle.

A cultural example: TED Speakers use the TED platform -- and bend to the TED rules -- to communicate their ideas. Many Speakers have had special presentation training, many of them have stunning visualizations of their ideas -- impressive slides, fascinating computer animations to communicate their ideas and partly their fiction of what might be possible -- to share their visions and to help them become reality one day.

A scientific example: scientists come up with theories based on observations, then they try to make them real by experimenting, by observing, by comparing, by publishing papers, by talking to peers and eventually by finding evidence (at least in most cases).

Do you think fiction has the power to provoke change? Do you think we need fiction to give our visions more substance and to push them towards reality? Is fiction in everyday life settings powerful? Is fiction dangerous? Can fiction foster innovation and change?

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    Sep 28 2011: Philofiction is a genre that merges philosophy and literature and is also a good example of how we can use imagination and fiction to communicate our visions in order to foster change. A philosophical text should be an unbiased reflection on all things. The text should not contain imagination and fictitious elements. This means that no characters may be created and no events may be imagined. Contrary to that, the literary text should only apply as a product of the imagination and feelings. This means that fictitious elements, events and imagined characters may be created here. Let us now pay attention to the difference the public makes between philosophers and writers. Philosophers are known for their usually unintelligible jargon and for reasoning that most people cannot follow. Literature writers are seen more as artists, creative souls who do not really belong in the academic world. But what exactly is the difference between philosophy and literature? Is it the difference between a philosopher and a writer? A writer can have more things in common with a philosopher than with another writer. Isn’t it then the case that the individual differences are greater than the differences between those two categories? And how can we describe philofiction? A literary genre that brings together philosophy and literature by blurring the borders between intelligence and feeling with the objective of making the reader know no boundaries. Philofiction dialogues describe events and meetings between part real, part literary created characters, who reason and interpret but also clarify or contradict all kinds of thoughts and statements and in this way enable the reader to deepen its knowledge. Philofiction does indeed appeal to the intellect and the imagination simultaneously and therefore it is no different from the manner in which each of us experiences life.
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      Oct 11 2011: Alex, thank you very much for your comment and for introduction the concept of philofiction. I think this is indeed a very interesting point of view and I agree that every writer has something in common with a philosopher, but that individual writers do not necessarily have something in common with each other. For instance, look at the variety of literary genres -- certain ideas of course do overlap, but I think that every writer touches philosophical questions on a more or less obvious level. But the question would be: how can we make use of philofiction to communicate ideas and to help them become real innovations?

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