The very best in internet-enabled storytelling.By Goodplanet Foundation
Today’s technology can do more than connect us to information, economic opportunity, even friends and family. It has the power to connect us to our shared humanity.
An outstanding example is the remarkable video platform 7 billion Others, a GoodPlanet Foundation project supported for 10 years by BNP Paribas, which brings together a richly textured portrait of people from all over the world.
More than 6,000 interviews, subtitled in English, have been filmed in 84 countries by a team of film directors, asking people the same set of 45 questions about their hopes and fears, memories and aspirations, taking them from what they learned from their parents, to how they treat their children.
The interviews made available on the 7 billion Others website provide a glimpse into the inner lives of people in far, distant places – from Pen, the Cambodian fisher woman who survived the Khmer Rouge and now earns $5 on a good day, talking about how women like her feel they are the equal of men, to Romina, an Argentinean actress, recalling her fondest childhood memory: being woken each Saturday by her grandmother with a milky cup of coffee.
Through the hundreds of interviews common themes emerge: the importance of love and family, equality and freedom, dignity and respect for other people. The 7 billion Others project could not have been possible without the web as a low-cost tool to collect and disseminate the videos. It breaks down barriers of religion, race and geography to show we are not perhaps as different as we think we are.
Another inspirational expression of humanity online is We Feel Fine, a software-generated, interactive online artwork started in August 2005 by coders-cum-artists Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar. It remains one of the most inspirational attempts to visualise the shared human emotions that lie behind the impersonal big data that the digital world is generating. Every few minutes the system searches the world’s newly posted blog entries for occurrences of the phrases ‘I feel’ and ‘I am feeling’, and captures information about the feeling expressed as well as background data of the author.
The result is a database of millions of human feelings that the artists have visualized in playful interactive interfaces, mounds and swarms, mobs of common feelings and montages of the pictures bloggers posted alongside their feelings. Between 2005 and 2009 it collected 13 million expressions of feeling from more than 2.3 million people. An artistic oxymoron: We Feel Fine is authored by millions but created without human intervention. Many of those seeking to bring ‘big data’ to life could do worse than take a look at We Feel Fine.
Image © 7 billion Others / GoodPlanet Foundation.
Last updated: 09th of May, 2014