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: As a software engineer and avid "Gamer" I am struck by the type of interactions that are being promoted in video games and have been since the inception of the medium. Video Games are the media of the next generation. They are playing call of duty far more hours than they are watching television. For the developed world I believe this is becoming the norm. If we are going to increase empathy in the next generation, cross culture, I think we need to provide experiences in this medium which are engaging and create empathic reactions in the player. One amazing example (while somewhat sexist) is the game ICO by Japan Studio. It's rather dated now, but nearly the entire game mechanic is driven off of causing the player to empathize for and want to protect Yurda (a frail young girl). What's more, the character interacts with the player entirely without words (she does not speak english or japanese) and instead uses body language and physical emotes, so the experience is the same no matter which culture you are from. Upon reading this topic I immediately thought of the juxtaposition of ICO (which was made in Japan) and Call of Duty (which was made in the US). One is an amazing training tool for empathy, while the other seems to be an amazing training tool for shameless one-up-manship and the disregarding of any human life not "on your team". We need artists with vision in this industry if we are going to create cross-cultural experiences like ICO that expand the next generation's capacity for empathy. I could go on for hours, but the conversation is closing :]
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      Nov 18 2011: On this note, I really appreciate another TED fellow, Jane McGonnigal, who encourages more gaming and harnessing that energy toward social change.
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      Nov 18 2011: Hey Arne, just caught this post from earlier. I entirely agree with you here. Just like HBO revitalized what TV could be for an audience that had largely given up on it — and also sparked a bunch of competitors to raise the level of their offerings — I wonder when some game visionary will create an interactive experience that is much more than entertainment. This may exist, and I just don't know of it....
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      Nov 18 2011: Fascinating example (ICO) - thanks Arne. In related turf, Deepak Chopra has a new meditation game called "Leena" I think. I've long thought that the field of computer gaming was in it's infancy and has a lot more promise than has been realized thus far. Now - how to combine live, human performance with the games?

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