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: How abut some non-web based examples of new technologies that help us push into places and people with which we are less familiar? Any ideas / examples?
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      Nov 18 2011: The BMW Guggenheim Lab is a great example of a physical space where people gather and technology is used to tell a compelling story and facilitate an in-person discussion. Most of the topics were focused on city-planning and hyper-local issues which makes paying attention easy, since issues pertain to your back yard but those local topics I was largely unaware of.
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      Nov 18 2011: The Levi's Filmmakers Workshop that was a part of the Street Art exhibit at the Los Angeles MOCA was an incredible educational vehicle that taught anyone and everyone who wanted to learn how to make a movie or an animation. I met some really amazing creative people of all shapes and sizes and they all had their own messages, visions and dreams!
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      Nov 18 2011: I think personal universal language translation is about a decade away. Language is one of the great barriers to the inter-connection of cultures, and if that technology becomes a reality I think we will start to see a lot more travel between areas of the world, and more importantly it will become much more difficult for countries like China to filter what information their population has access to. Already things like website translation have revolutionized access to information from other cultures, I'm looking forward to the day when language is more of a thin film than a brick wall in terms of our communication.
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        Nov 18 2011: I can't even begin to comprehend what universal language translation would portend. My mind is blown just thinking about it.
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        Nov 18 2011: I saw a story on television about a deaf woman who traveled through China on her own. She said that she had very little problem making her self understood. (Personal interaction evoking empathy and understanding through gesture and mime).

        So while the world's languages are diverse there is still a universal language of humanity that we share. It's intangible, but most of it is the facial expressions, body language and tonal qualities.
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          Nov 18 2011: Sure, I've traveled a ton with just a handful of hand gesture, and a ton of patience and time. But I could never be particularly interesting, or funny — and I always felt so frustrated at the fact that here I was, in the presence of people who I'll never likely meet again, and I just can't ask the questions I want to ask... Still, there's something so fundamental about realizing that you don't need to talk to have a pretty great time with strangers...

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