English subtitles

← TED Global 2013 Found in Translation An Xaio Mina

In the TED Found in Translation Session following her talk, An explores the culture of the internet with fellow TEDGlobal Speaker, Hetain Patel, and a global panel of TED Translators.

Get Embed Code
11 Languages

Showing Revision 7 created 04/09/2014 by TED.

  1. Hello, everybody.
  2. Welcome to the Open Translation lounge
  3. for the TED Found In Translation
    sessions here at TEDGlobal in Scotland.
  4. Today, we have two speakers.
  5. First for us this week,
  6. we have An Xiao Mina,
    who just left the stage minutes ago.
  7. And Hetain Patel, who actually
    delivered his talk several days ago.
  8. Also joining us here on the stage
    is Coco from Hong Kong,
  9. Shadia from Mauritius Island,
    and Jan from the Czech Republic.
  10. Joining us online, over here,
    we have Matti from Hong Kong,
  11. Jason from Hong Kong as well,
  12. Anna from Italy and Anja from Slovenia.
  13. - Hi.
  14. - Welcome.
    I'm going to start with you, An.
  15. Fantastic talk,
    thank you so much for joining us.
  16. Your talk was all about memes
    as a means of expression.
  17. And the examples were highly localised,
    but they're also universal.
  18. Everyone got them immediately.
  19. Could you talk about that in the context
  20. of having all these people
    from around the world?
  21. - Sure. What's really interesting
    to me about Internet culture
  22. is if we think about Hollywood -
    I grew up partially in the Philippines,
  23. my family is Filipino-Chinese -
  24. and I remember travelling around
    and going to the most rural areas
  25. of the Philippines,
    seeing people with Coke bottles
  26. or watching Hollywood movies.
  27. There's always the sense of Hollywood
    or mass media providing a global culture.
  28. What I'm interested in
    is Internet culture.
  29. It's more like a ground up
    version of that,
  30. it's coming from a local version.
  31. That's why I used the word 'street-art',
    or hip-hop culture.
  32. I'm interested in how Internet culture
    can become this bridge culture.
  33. Just like I can talk about
    Arnold Schwarzenegger in rural Uganda,
  34. or in New York City.
  35. Just two days ago, I was talking
    with an Italian, an Indian and then me -
  36. sounds like an intro to a joke,
  37. and it was because we were all talking
    about how people in Italy, in India
  38. and in Uganda were all filming their
    ministers of government falling asleep.
  39. That became an Internet meme.
  40. It suddenly became this bridge.
  41. "Oh, your ministers fall asleep, too!"
  42. And, so, I'm interested in how
    this Internet culture
  43. can be a bridge culture
    that's driven by people.
  44. It is incredibly local
    and becomes a bridge for storytelling,
  45. and maybe even for global,
    civic engagement, global understanding.
  46. Now I know a little bit more
    about what's going on in India,
  47. in a way I can relate to.
  48. So, that's really what I hope
    people really got from the talk.
  49. And kind of what I'm looking at
    with my founding partner, Jason Li,
  50. with our new site called The Civic Beat,
  51. is can this be a bridge for storytelling,
  52. and then, from there,
    active engagement online.
  53. And global understanding.
  54. - Great.
  55. Actually, I'd like to take
    a question from the Skype crowd.
  56. Does anybody have a question
    for An to begin with?
  57. - I can start,
    but I don't think I have a question.
  58. I'd like to comment on this
    activism side of the argument
  59. because we recently had
    some protests in Slovenia
  60. and it was quite a shock because
    a lot of people said they would be coming,
  61. and not a lot of people came.
  62. So are memes just a form
    of online activism
  63. that isn't translated into public space,
  64. and, therefore, lacks some kind of
    political legitimacy
  65. for politicians and the government?
  66. - That's a really great question.
  67. It's something I've struggled with a lot
  68. because it does seem like
    we're sharing pictures of cats.
  69. Like, what is this doing?
  70. You know, one phrase I use,
  71. and the reason I brought in
    this essay from Havel
  72. is this notion of a ladder of engagement
    to civic expression.
  73. It always starts with little steps.
  74. And, certainly, many times,
  75. you see instances where people
    are talking a lot online.
  76. And it doesn't seem
    like they're engaging offline.
  77. But, then, over time,
  78. and one of my favourite examples
    is the sunglasses meme
  79. that I ended the talk on,
  80. where everyone was wearing
    sunglasses for Chen Guangcheng.
  81. OK, it seems like
    this is just empty expression,
  82. it's not going anywhere,
    nothing's happening.
  83. But, again, if you think about
    the context of China,
  84. where there's heavy suppression
    of any kind of political-public assembly,
  85. there is actually reports of people
    wearing sunglasses
  86. in a form of flash mob in physical space.
  87. They actually went to the town
    where Chen was being held,
  88. nearby where he was being held,
  89. and they assembled together,
    and all wore sunglasses.
  90. That became a form
    of physical public assembly.
  91. So, it's hard to imagine that happening
    without first the meme popping up.
  92. So, it doesn't always happen that way,
  93. but there's so many cases where
    we're seeing how a meme presages
  94. any kind of physical action or assembly
    that it's really convinced me
  95. that it really is the beginning
    of a larger engagement.
  96. And it might be discouraging
    at the beginning to see people
  97. clicking and pointing, but I don't want
    to see that as a dichotomy.
  98. If you go to a protest wearing a button,
  99. that meme is very much similar
    to a button.
  100. It's a form of visual expression
  101. that we've seen in all kinds
    of social movements in history.
  102. - I'd like to bring in Hetain.
  103. We were talking yesterday
    about how, obviously,
  104. memes are a way of expressing ourselves,
  105. and how language actually -
    we express ourselves in different ways.
  106. The idea of do we have a different
    identity in every language that we speak.
  107. - Yeah, I mean, there's a lot of reasons
    why you might feel as though
  108. you have a different identity
    when you speak a different language.
  109. It might be due to vocabulary.
  110. So, from my personal experience,
    if I'm speaking Gujarati,
  111. an Indian language, there's certain things
  112. I'm used to talking about in that language
    with my grandmother, domestic things.
  113. In English, I might talk about
    a whole different kind of things.
  114. In French, something else.
  115. So, it might be the kind of topic
    you speak about,
  116. and, then, also, something
    comes in in the vocabulary also,
  117. in how you think about things,
    through different languages.
  118. And I actually think
    it's not just language.
  119. Even with one language,
    you kind of change who you are,
  120. depending who you talk to anyway.
  121. I guess, every day, we're performing
    different versions of ourselves.
  122. - One of the most popular things I've seen
    is Photoshop remixes of police brutality.
  123. There's a meme in China
    called The Fat Cop.
  124. And there was a protest
    in Shifang about pollution,
  125. and there's this fat cop
    that was hitting people.
  126. And, obviously, very frightening.
  127. People took that cop and started
    putting him into other images.
  128. He looked like he was running,
    so they put him into, like, movies
  129. where he looks like he's chasing
    after Tom Cruise,
  130. into all these weird images.
  131. And a really similar thing happened
    in the United States where,
  132. I don't know who's from the US,
  133. but if you remember the pepper
    spraying cop, the famous cop
  134. who was pepper spraying students
    who were engaging in the Occupy movement.
  135. And he looked like he was
    literally watering the plants.
  136. And, so, people took that image of him,
    again, a terrifying image,
  137. and they took that terror away
    by putting it into a context of humour,
  138. and started Photoshopping him
    into images of him, like,
  139. watering the roses,
    or spray-painting in a movie.
  140. So, those images, they break language.
  141. I know exactly what's going on in China,
    I know exactly what is happening,
  142. even if I'm looking at a meme
    that's coming from Egypt,
  143. and I don't speak the language,
  144. but I can see and understand it,
    in a way, because it's a visual language,
  145. and that's really compelling to me.
  146. - I want to bring in someone from Skype.
    Anna, I'd like to bring you.
  147. Do you have a question for Hetain
    or An Xiao Mina?
  148. - Yes, hello.
  149. I was wondering if you think there's any
    difference between memes in China
  150. and in the other countries,
    just because China's Internet is censored?
  151. - I think we see a lot of creativity
    because of censorship.
  152. A lot of the talks this week
  153. were talking about how creativity
    and innovation come out of necessity.
  154. And, so, China's Internet
    has two things going for it.
  155. It's one of the world's largest Internets.
  156. I think it may have recently become
    the world's largest Internet.
  157. The infrastructure is there to support
    a lot of creativity and remixing.
  158. Then, on the other side, it's one
    of the world's most censored Internets.
  159. So, you have these two factors.
  160. A lot of people can be creative online,
  161. but then their voices
    are stamped on more often.
  162. So, recently, there were images
    of Tiananmen Square -
  163. I don't know if you remember
    the infamous tank image, three tanks,
  164. and the man standing up to it -
  165. there were two images
    that stuck out to me.
  166. One was someone had replaced the tanks
    with a kitten looking at the person.
  167. And another one, they actually replaced
    the tanks with rubber ducks,
  168. and rubber ducks had become
    a meme earlier,
  169. because there's a big rubber duck
    floating in Hong Kong,
  170. an art installation.
  171. And, so, that image is incredibly,
    incredibly censored in China.
  172. But by creating these other ways,
    putting in a cat,
  173. I mean, what goes more viral
    on the Internet than a cat?
  174. It's a way to get the message
    out there, really quickly.
  175. Of course, it got deleted pretty quickly,
    but it also spread pretty quickly.
  176. So, I don't want to say
    that their creativity is different.
  177. Part of my talk is that there's actually
    a lot of really similar creativity
  178. around the world, but in China,
    you do have this element of censorship
  179. that compels creativity
    in more frequent cases, at least for now.
  180. - OK, thank you.
    - I think, you know,
  181. I've only looked at three contexts -
    at China, a little bit of Philippines,
  182. and Uganda, and then United States.
  183. And there are some similar themes.
  184. Police brutality tends to be actually
    a similar theme across all of these areas.
  185. And growing up in Los Angeles,
    I understand why that is.
  186. I saw police brutality myself.
  187. It's a frightening situation.
  188. So, using humour diffuses that,
  189. so, it becomes a very common way
    to express ourselves
  190. and often people, especially in areas
    where there's limited free speech,
  191. people will remix images of their leaders,
    so you see a lot of that.
  192. But, often, it's very local.
  193. Some of the more compelling memes
    coming out of Sub-Saharan Africa,
  194. I showed one,
    Tweet Like A Foreign Journalist,
  195. where the Spanish Prime Minister
    had said...
  196. The Spanish economy was tanking,
  197. the Spanish Prime Minister sent
    a text message to his finance minister,
  198. and he said, 'Don't worry -
    Spain is not Uganda'.
  199. Uganda's pounced on this.
  200. They started saying,
    'Uganda is not Spain'.
  201. And they started posting statistics
    about how Uganda's economy is rising,
  202. all these kinds of issues.
  203. That's something really common
    I've seen in Sub-Saharan Africa,
  204. because Sub-Saharan Africa in particular
    is misrepresented in global media
  205. much more often than other places.
  206. So, yes, there are some themes,
  207. but you can find very local ones
    that are really interesting.
  208. - We have a question from Hong Kong.
    Actually, Matti.
  209. - Do you think is this a new phenomenon,
  210. merged with the Internet,
  211. or do you have any pre-Internet samples
  212. of remixing, for example picture
    of leaders, and stuff like that?
  213. - Oh, yeah, absolutely.
  214. What's new about the Internet
    is that it's faster.
  215. I haven't seen anything in history
    that's filled with such weirdness.
  216. I haven't seen cats and llamas
    and dogs and pigs.
  217. But I was just talking with someone,
  218. and since we're in the UK,
    this is appropriate,
  219. there's this British publisher,
  220. I forget the century,
    but his name was John Wilkes.
  221. He was publishing
    the North Briton newspaper.
  222. It was considered at the time
    a very edgy newspaper.
  223. The 45th issue angered the government
    so much that they destroyed
  224. all the printing presses
    and they censored the magazine.
  225. And then they arrested John Wilkes.
  226. But, then, shortly after he's arrested,
  227. just like the sunflower seeds,
    the number 45
  228. started popping up on walls and, again,
  229. this is why I bring that analogy
    with street art,
  230. that there is a long history of people
  231. taking symbols and images
    and putting them out
  232. as a way of speaking out, even when
    that message is being suppressed.
  233. - I just want to bring in
    some of our translator panellists.
  234. Do you have a question
    for either Hetain or An?
  235. - Our president gets mocked a lot,
    but, like, he never...
  236. I always thought if he can reply
    with humour,
  237. it would be really nice
    to solve the situation,
  238. so I'm wondering, is there any example
  239. of how government can handle
    this in a rather humorous way?
  240. - Humorous way,
    yeah, that's a great question.
  241. I don't know if any Americans here
  242. remember the Hillary Clinton texting meme
    that popped up?
  243. That wasn't a political commentary.
  244. It was just her looking really bad-ass.
  245. She was wearing sunglasses and texting.
  246. And there are all kinds of joke texts
    coming from her
  247. about how cool she was.
  248. And she just opened a Twitter account,
    and it's that photo.
  249. So, I think she's doing it well.
  250. Granted, it wasn't criticising her,
  251. but she did it well
    in terms of embracing it.
  252. And I think, there's certainly
    a culture gap, a generation gap,
  253. and I do hope that it opens up
    a door for using humour
  254. because I think that would be great,
  255. if persons in power can use humour
  256. to help talk about
    often very difficult issues.
  257. - We're going to have to wrap it,
    we have to head back into session.
  258. Thank you, An Xiao Mina, and thank you,
    Hetain Patel, for joining us.
  259. And thank you, all the translators.
    Thank you very much.
  260. (Applause)