TED Conversations

Lars Jan
  • Lars Jan
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • United States

Artistic Director / Founder, Early Morning Opera


This conversation is closed.

How can creatives use new technologies to increase empathy across cultural and geographic distances?

I'm fascinated by how people feel close to one another and how the answers to that question are evolving.

Live TED Conversation: Join TED Fellow Lars Jan

Lars is a media artist and founder of Early Morning Opera, a multidisciplinary art lab creating works about "America right now."

This conversation will open at 1:00PM ET on November 18th


Closing Statement from Lars Jan

THANK YOU ALL CONTRIBUTORS ! Lots of insight, passion and bunch of new threads to follow. I think the conversation veered towards empathy as relates to how we experience the world via the web, which seems like the trunk of this conversation. I'm also curious about what other branches will evolve — comments about universal translation and the future of gaming sparked my imagination in particular.

Benedict Anderson calls nations 'imagined communities.' We are pretty successful at imagining our affiliation with 300 million other folks, and that was the case well before the web and other social tools emerged. I'm constantly wondering about how we might expand that number to about 7 billion. 300 million and 7 billion both feel like infinity, at least to me. So I'm essentially imagining the same thing anyway.

Looking forward to connecting with you again, in thought or person as the case may be, somewhere down the line. Thanks again for sharing your passion! Onwards and upwards...

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    Nov 18 2011: I think putting people in contact with others around the world makes a huge difference, if you can actually have a conversation, be it text, audio or both via video link then you will get educated very quickly on exactly how different some countries are, be it economically, socially, etc.
    If you have one person in a room full of cds, clothes, and gadgets who is talking to someone in a country that has the bare essentials, and sometimes less, than the former person is very quickly going to appreciate what they have, and perhaps re-evaluate why they got it and what use it is. (or perhaps even feel guilt for such a vast overuse of resources that are relatively under-used)

    So I think we need to go beyond pictures and statements, and let interaction and education via one to one, or group discussons provoke understanding and empathy,which will hopefully lead to action to improve the existing vast imbalances that exist.
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      Nov 18 2011: Amen (though I'm not religious). Great comment, and it raises a big question for me. How does language fit into the equation? Newspapers during the industrial revolution had the effect of systematizing English (and other languages). Where previously there were rather significant differences in dialect, these quickly evaporated? What will these new avenues of communication you mention mean for our lingua franca (itself an oxymoron at this point)?
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      Nov 18 2011: I also love this comment. I think instead of "going beyond" pictures and statements, we should encourage building a bridge between creating art and sharing values and education across cultures. Accessible open platforms for people in different countries who want to collaborate on creative projects?

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