The crossroads of culture and technology

Professional artists and journalists debate social media, art and technology Monday during the "Transcending Conflict through Culture" symposium.

Five guests from various walks of life sat down  for a three-hour conversation about culture and the way technology has changed our lives.

Taking part in a conversation called "Transcending Conflicting through Culture", the panel included a New York Times columnist, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, a graphic novelist, and two of the people who organized the opening ceremonies for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.  Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor provided opening remarks and law professor David Crane moderated the event.

Here are some of the highlights from the discussion:

David Pogue

The New York Times tech guru said improvements in technology are allowing us to connect with people around the world.  Pogue played the Ocarina (the flute from Zelda) on his Apple iPhone and then switched to an application that allowed him to listen in on someone in Russia practicing the same instrument.

"I'm listening to someone in Russia playing the Ocarina!" Pogue exclaimed. "How can I go to war with this guy?"

Shen Wei

The principal organizer of the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, described the satisfaction of putting on a show for the world to see.

"To know that I have moved so many people by one performance makes me satisfied," he said.

Brett Egan

At the end of the symposium, the panelists gave their thoughts on "cultural diplomacy," an all-encompassing term that describes the ways people interact and communicate with one another.  Egan, executive director of Shen Wei Dance Arts, said that despite different economic, technological and geographic circumstances, we are all linked by some fundamental similarities.

"At our core we're interested in the same-thing – a peaceful life filled with beauty."

Marjane Satrapi

The Iranian and French graphic novelist and author of Persepolis said that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have led to even more impersonal relationships and communication.

"Do we really know people if we don't smell them, if we don't see them, if we don't touch them," Satrapi asked. "If you have 500 friends on Facebook, believe me, you do not have 500 friends.  I really do not think that some of my facebook friends would make me soup if I were sick."

"We are living in a world in which time is our biggest enemy," Satrapi said. "It's not. It's our biggest friend."

 David Pogue: One Million Twits Strong: New York Times technology columnist talks about Twitter's emerging role in society.

David Pogue Interview

Symposium Coverage: Review highlights and remarks from the Sept. 21 event.

Cultural Diplomacy Symposium


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