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TED Global 2013 Found in Translation An Xaio Mina

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    Hello, everybody.
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    Welcome to the Open Translation lounge
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    for the TED Found In Translation
    sessions here at TEDGlobal in Scotland.
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    Today, we have two speakers.
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    First for us this week,
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    we have An Xiao Mina,
    who just left the stage minutes ago.
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    And Hetain Patel, who actually
    delivered his talk several days ago.
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    Also joining us here on the stage
    is Coco from Hong Kong,
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    Shadia from Mauritius Island,
    and Jan from the Czech Republic.
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    Joining us online, over here,
    we have Matti from Hong Kong,
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    Jason from Hong Kong as well,
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    Anna from Italy and Anja from Slovenia.
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    - Hi.
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    - Welcome.
    I'm going to start with you, An.
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    Fantastic talk,
    thank you so much for joining us.
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    Your talk was all about memes
    as a means of expression.
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    And the examples were highly localised,
    but they're also universal.
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    Everyone got them immediately.
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    Could you talk about that in the context
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    of having all these people
    from around the world?
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    - Sure. What's really interesting
    to me about Internet culture
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    is if we think about Hollywood -
    I grew up partially in the Philippines,
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    my family is Filipino-Chinese -
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    and I remember travelling around
    and going to the most rural areas
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    of the Philippines,
    seeing people with Coke bottles
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    or watching Hollywood movies.
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    There's always the sense of Hollywood
    or mass media providing a global culture.
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    What I'm interested in
    is Internet culture.
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    It's more like a ground up
    version of that,
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    it's coming from a local version.
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    That's why I used the word 'street-art',
    or hip-hop culture.
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    I'm interested in how Internet culture
    can become this bridge culture.
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    Just like I can talk about
    Arnold Schwarzenegger in rural Uganda,
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    or in New York City.
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    Just two days ago, I was talking
    with an Italian, an Indian and then me -
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    sounds like an intro to a joke,
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    and it was because we were all talking
    about how people in Italy, in India
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    and in Uganda were all filming their
    ministers of government falling asleep.
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    That became an Internet meme.
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    It suddenly became this bridge.
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    "Oh, your ministers fall asleep, too!"
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    And, so, I'm interested in how
    this Internet culture
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    can be a bridge culture
    that's driven by people.
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    It is incredibly local
    and becomes a bridge for storytelling,
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    and maybe even for global,
    civic engagement, global understanding.
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    Now I know a little bit more
    about what's going on in India,
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    in a way I can relate to.
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    So, that's really what I hope
    people really got from the talk.
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    And kind of what I'm looking at
    with my founding partner, Jason Li,
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    with our new site called The Civic Beat,
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    is can this be a bridge for storytelling,
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    and then, from there,
    active engagement online.
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    And global understanding.
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    - Great.
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    Actually, I'd like to take
    a question from the Skype crowd.
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    Does anybody have a question
    for An to begin with?
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    - I can start,
    but I don't think I have a question.
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    I'd like to comment on this
    activism side of the argument
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    because we recently had
    some protests in Slovenia
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    and it was quite a shock because
    a lot of people said they would be coming,
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    and not a lot of people came.
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    So are memes just a form
    of online activism
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    that isn't translated into public space,
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    and, therefore, lacks some kind of
    political legitimacy
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    for politicians and the government?
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    - That's a really great question.
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    It's something I've struggled with a lot
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    because it does seem like
    we're sharing pictures of cats.
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    Like, what is this doing?
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    You know, one phrase I use,
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    and the reason I brought in
    this essay from Havel
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    is this notion of a ladder of engagement
    to civic expression.
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    It always starts with little steps.
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    And, certainly, many times,
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    you see instances where people
    are talking a lot online.
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    And it doesn't seem
    like they're engaging offline.
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    But, then, over time,
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    and one of my favourite examples
    is the sunglasses meme
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    that I ended the talk on,
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    where everyone was wearing
    sunglasses for Chen Guangcheng.
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    OK, it seems like
    this is just empty expression,
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    it's not going anywhere,
    nothing's happening.
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    But, again, if you think about
    the context of China,
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    where there's heavy suppression
    of any kind of political-public assembly,
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    there is actually reports of people
    wearing sunglasses
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    in a form of flash mob in physical space.
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    They actually went to the town
    where Chen was being held,
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    nearby where he was being held,
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    and they assembled together,
    and all wore sunglasses.
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    That became a form
    of physical public assembly.
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    So, it's hard to imagine that happening
    without first the meme popping up.
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    So, it doesn't always happen that way,
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    but there's so many cases where
    we're seeing how a meme presages
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    any kind of physical action or assembly
    that it's really convinced me
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    that it really is the beginning
    of a larger engagement.
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    And it might be discouraging
    at the beginning to see people
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    clicking and pointing, but I don't want
    to see that as a dichotomy.
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    If you go to a protest wearing a button,
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    that meme is very much similar
    to a button.
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    It's a form of visual expression
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    that we've seen in all kinds
    of social movements in history.
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    - I'd like to bring in Hetain.
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    We were talking yesterday
    about how, obviously,
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    memes are a way of expressing ourselves,
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    and how language actually -
    we express ourselves in different ways.
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    The idea of do we have a different
    identity in every language that we speak.
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    - Yeah, I mean, there's a lot of reasons
    why you might feel as though
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    you have a different identity
    when you speak a different language.
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    It might be due to vocabulary.
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    So, from my personal experience,
    if I'm speaking Gujarati,
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    an Indian language, there's certain things
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    I'm used to talking about in that language
    with my grandmother, domestic things.
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    In English, I might talk about
    a whole different kind of things.
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    In French, something else.
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    So, it might be the kind of topic
    you speak about,
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    and, then, also, something
    comes in in the vocabulary also,
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    in how you think about things,
    through different languages.
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    And I actually think
    it's not just language.
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    Even with one language,
    you kind of change who you are,
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    depending who you talk to anyway.
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    I guess, every day, we're performing
    different versions of ourselves.
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    - One of the most popular things I've seen
    is Photoshop remixes of police brutality.
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    There's a meme in China
    called The Fat Cop.
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    And there was a protest
    in Shifang about pollution,
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    and there's this fat cop
    that was hitting people.
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    And, obviously, very frightening.
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    People took that cop and started
    putting him into other images.
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    He looked like he was running,
    so they put him into, like, movies
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    where he looks like he's chasing
    after Tom Cruise,
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    into all these weird images.
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    And a really similar thing happened
    in the United States where,
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    I don't know who's from the US,
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    but if you remember the pepper
    spraying cop, the famous cop
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    who was pepper spraying students
    who were engaging in the Occupy movement.
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    And he looked like he was
    literally watering the plants.
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    And, so, people took that image of him,
    again, a terrifying image,
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    and they took that terror away
    by putting it into a context of humour,
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    and started Photoshopping him
    into images of him, like,
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    watering the roses,
    or spray-painting in a movie.
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    So, those images, they break language.
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    I know exactly what's going on in China,
    I know exactly what is happening,
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    even if I'm looking at a meme
    that's coming from Egypt,
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    and I don't speak the language,
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    but I can see and understand it,
    in a way, because it's a visual language,
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    and that's really compelling to me.
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    - I want to bring in someone from Skype.
    Anna, I'd like to bring you.
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    Do you have a question for Hetain
    or An Xiao Mina?
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    - Yes, hello.
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    I was wondering if you think there's any
    difference between memes in China
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    and in the other countries,
    just because China's Internet is censored?
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    - I think we see a lot of creativity
    because of censorship.
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    A lot of the talks this week
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    were talking about how creativity
    and innovation come out of necessity.
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    And, so, China's Internet
    has two things going for it.
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    It's one of the world's largest Internets.
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    I think it may have recently become
    the world's largest Internet.
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    The infrastructure is there to support
    a lot of creativity and remixing.
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    Then, on the other side, it's one
    of the world's most censored Internets.
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    So, you have these two factors.
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    A lot of people can be creative online,
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    but then their voices
    are stamped on more often.
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    So, recently, there were images
    of Tiananmen Square -
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    I don't know if you remember
    the infamous tank image, three tanks,
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    and the man standing up to it -
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    there were two images
    that stuck out to me.
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    One was someone had replaced the tanks
    with a kitten looking at the person.
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    And another one, they actually replaced
    the tanks with rubber ducks,
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    and rubber ducks had become
    a meme earlier,
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    because there's a big rubber duck
    floating in Hong Kong,
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    an art installation.
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    And, so, that image is incredibly,
    incredibly censored in China.
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    But by creating these other ways,
    putting in a cat,
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    I mean, what goes more viral
    on the Internet than a cat?
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    It's a way to get the message
    out there, really quickly.
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    Of course, it got deleted pretty quickly,
    but it also spread pretty quickly.
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    So, I don't want to say
    that their creativity is different.
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    Part of my talk is that there's actually
    a lot of really similar creativity
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    around the world, but in China,
    you do have this element of censorship
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    that compels creativity
    in more frequent cases, at least for now.
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    - OK, thank you.
    - I think, you know,
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    I've only looked at three contexts -
    at China, a little bit of Philippines,
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    and Uganda, and then United States.
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    And there are some similar themes.
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    Police brutality tends to be actually
    a similar theme across all of these areas.
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    And growing up in Los Angeles,
    I understand why that is.
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    I saw police brutality myself.
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    It's a frightening situation.
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    So, using humour diffuses that,
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    so, it becomes a very common way
    to express ourselves
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    and often people, especially in areas
    where there's limited free speech,
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    people will remix images of their leaders,
    so you see a lot of that.
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    But, often, it's very local.
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    Some of the more compelling memes
    coming out of Sub-Saharan Africa,
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    I showed one,
    Tweet Like A Foreign Journalist,
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    where the Spanish Prime Minister
    had said...
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    The Spanish economy was tanking,
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    the Spanish Prime Minister sent
    a text message to his finance minister,
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    and he said, 'Don't worry -
    Spain is not Uganda'.
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    Uganda's pounced on this.
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    They started saying,
    'Uganda is not Spain'.
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    And they started posting statistics
    about how Uganda's economy is rising,
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    all these kinds of issues.
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    That's something really common
    I've seen in Sub-Saharan Africa,
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    because Sub-Saharan Africa in particular
    is misrepresented in global media
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    much more often than other places.
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    So, yes, there are some themes,
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    but you can find very local ones
    that are really interesting.
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    - We have a question from Hong Kong.
    Actually, Matti.
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    - Do you think is this a new phenomenon,
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    merged with the Internet,
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    or do you have any pre-Internet samples
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    of remixing, for example picture
    of leaders, and stuff like that?
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    - Oh, yeah, absolutely.
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    What's new about the Internet
    is that it's faster.
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    I haven't seen anything in history
    that's filled with such weirdness.
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    I haven't seen cats and llamas
    and dogs and pigs.
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    But I was just talking with someone,
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    and since we're in the UK,
    this is appropriate,
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    there's this British publisher,
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    I forget the century,
    but his name was John Wilkes.
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    He was publishing
    the North Briton newspaper.
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    It was considered at the time
    a very edgy newspaper.
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    The 45th issue angered the government
    so much that they destroyed
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    all the printing presses
    and they censored the magazine.
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    And then they arrested John Wilkes.
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    But, then, shortly after he's arrested,
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    just like the sunflower seeds,
    the number 45
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    started popping up on walls and, again,
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    this is why I bring that analogy
    with street art,
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    that there is a long history of people
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    taking symbols and images
    and putting them out
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    as a way of speaking out, even when
    that message is being suppressed.
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    - I just want to bring in
    some of our translator panellists.
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    Do you have a question
    for either Hetain or An?
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    - Our president gets mocked a lot,
    but, like, he never...
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    I always thought if he can reply
    with humour,
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    it would be really nice
    to solve the situation,
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    so I'm wondering, is there any example
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    of how government can handle
    this in a rather humorous way?
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    - Humorous way,
    yeah, that's a great question.
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    I don't know if any Americans here
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    remember the Hillary Clinton texting meme
    that popped up?
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    That wasn't a political commentary.
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    It was just her looking really bad-ass.
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    She was wearing sunglasses and texting.
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    And there are all kinds of joke texts
    coming from her
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    about how cool she was.
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    And she just opened a Twitter account,
    and it's that photo.
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    So, I think she's doing it well.
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    Granted, it wasn't criticising her,
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    but she did it well
    in terms of embracing it.
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    And I think, there's certainly
    a culture gap, a generation gap,
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    and I do hope that it opens up
    a door for using humour
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    because I think that would be great,
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    if persons in power can use humour
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    to help talk about
    often very difficult issues.
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    - We're going to have to wrap it,
    we have to head back into session.
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    Thank you, An Xiao Mina, and thank you,
    Hetain Patel, for joining us.
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    And thank you, all the translators.
    Thank you very much.
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    (Applause)
Title:
TED Global 2013 Found in Translation An Xaio Mina
Description:

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.

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Video Language:
English
Team:
TED
Project:
TED Translator Resources
Duration:
13:40

English subtitles

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