TED Conversations

Simone Lackerbauer

Product Manager, M.A., Creator, 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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    Oct 8 2011: If you mean fiction in its literal sense, as in "false" or thus, "lie," there is nothing wrong in that. After all, "artists use lies to tell the truth."

    The crazy ones are the ones who told these "lies" but turned these "lies" into realities.
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      Oct 16 2011: I again want to insist on the fact that from what I have read, fiction does not equal "lies", because fiction clearly states that it is not real and thus does not try to pretend to be true. I don't think artists use "lies" to tell the truth, but rather "imagination". But maybe the word "lie" has a different connotation in other cultures? For me as a German, it is a very... severe and harsh word with nothing positive about it. What about you?
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        Oct 18 2011: come to think of it... you're right. Lies are employed to get ahead or to get something... as opposed to a joke. This is rather interesting, and we've probably stumbled upon some philosophical realms of the true definitions of reality.

        But here's how I think of it: reading about an epic fictional tale of some hero overcoming struggles to save the world or whatever evokes the same emotions of hearing the story of your favorite athlete who became number 1 after all this hard work, sacrifice and whatever. 2 stories... one is real, one is fake, but the end result -- the experience being shared and people reacting to it -- is the same. I don't know, something to ponder about.
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          Oct 24 2011: The comparision between the epic fictional hero and the real athlete is indeed very intersting, thank you for illustrating it. I think it is a very valuable point of view, stating that everyone can be a hero for his own goals, and sharing this emotion with your surroundings to create a positive atmosphere of empowerment.

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