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  • Now, this is Joanna.

  • Joanna works at a university in Poland.

  • And one Saturday morning at 3am,

  • she got up, packed her rucksack

  • and traveled more than a thousand kilometers,

  • only to have a political argument

  • with a stranger.

  • His name is Christof, and he's a customer manager from Germany.

  • And the two had never met before.

  • They only knew that they were totally at odds over European politics,

  • over migration, or the relationship to Russia or whatever.

  • And they were arguing for almost one day.

  • And after that, Joanna sent me a somewhat irritating email.

  • "That was really cool, and I enjoyed every single minute of it!"

  • (Laughter)

  • So these are Tom from the UK and Nils from Germany.

  • They also were strangers,

  • and they are both supporters of their local football team,

  • as you may imagine, Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham Hotspurs.

  • And so they met on the very spot where football roots were invented,

  • on some field in Cambridge.

  • And they didn't argue about football,

  • but about Brexit.

  • And after talking for many hours about this contentious topic,

  • they also sent a rather unexpected email.

  • "It was delightful, and we both enjoyed it very much."

  • (Laughter)

  • So in spring 2019,

  • more than 17,000 Europeans from 33 countries

  • signed up to have a political argument.

  • Thousands crossed their borders to meet a stranger with a different opinion,

  • and they were all part of a project called "Europe Talks."

  • Now, talking about politics amongst people with different opinions

  • has become really difficult,

  • not only in Europe.

  • Families are splitting, friends no longer talk to each other.

  • We stay in our bubbles.

  • And these so-called filter bubbles are amplified by social media,

  • but they are not, in the core, a digital product.

  • The filter bubble has always been there.

  • It's in our minds.

  • As many studies repeatedly have shown,

  • we, for example, ignore effects that contradict our convictions.

  • So correcting fake news is definitely necessary,

  • but it's not sufficient to get a divided society

  • to rethink itself.

  • Fortunately, according to at least some research,

  • there may be a simple way to get a new perspective:

  • a personal one-on-one discussion

  • with someone who doesn't have your opinion.

  • It enables you to see the world in a new way,

  • through someone else's eyes.

  • Now, I'm the editor of "ZEIT ONLINE,"

  • one of the major digital news organizations in Germany.

  • And we started what became "Europe Talks" as a really modest editorial exercise.

  • As many journalists,

  • we were impressed by Trump and by Brexit,

  • and Germany was getting divided, too, especially over the issue of migration.

  • So the arrival of more than a million refugees in 2015 and 2016

  • dominated somewhat the debate.

  • And when we were thinking about our own upcoming election in 2017,

  • we definitely knew that we had to reinvent the way we were dealing with politics.

  • So digital nerds that we are,

  • we came up with obviously many very strange digital product ideas,

  • one of them being a Tinder for politics --

  • (Laughter)

  • a dating platform for political opposites,

  • a tool that could help get people together with different opinions.

  • And we decided to test it

  • and launched what techies would call a "minimum viable product."

  • So it was really simple.

  • We called it "Deutschland spricht" -- "Germany Talks" --

  • and we started with that in May 2017.

  • And it was really simple.

  • We used mainly Google Forms,

  • a tool that each and every one of us here can use to make surveys online.

  • And everywhere in our content, we embedded simple questions like this:

  • "Did Germany take in too many refugees?"

  • You click yes or no.

  • We asked you more questions, like, "Does the West treat Russia fairly?"

  • or, "Should gay couples be allowed to marry?"

  • And if you answered all these questions, we asked one more question:

  • "Hey, would you like to meet a neighbor who totally disagrees with you?"

  • (Laughter)

  • So this was a really simple experiment with no budget whatsoever.

  • We expected some hundred-ish people to register,

  • and we planned to match them by hand, the pairs.

  • And after one day, 1,000 people had registered.

  • And after some weeks, 12,000 Germans had signed up

  • to meet someone else with a different opinion.

  • So we had a problem.

  • (Laughter)

  • We hacked a quick and dirty algorithm

  • that would find the perfect Tinder matches,

  • like people living as close as possible having answered the questions

  • as differently as possible.

  • We introduced them via email.

  • And, as you may imagine, we had many concerns.

  • Maybe no one would show up in real life.

  • Maybe all the discussions in real life would be awful.

  • Or maybe we had an axe murderer in our database.

  • (Laughter)

  • But then, on a Sunday in June 2017,

  • something beautiful happened.

  • Thousands of Germans met in pairs and talked about politics peacefully.

  • Like Anno.

  • He's a former policeman who's against -- or was against -- gay marriage,

  • and Anne, she's an engineer who lives in a domestic partnership

  • with another woman.

  • And they were talking for hours about all the topics

  • where they had different opinions.

  • At one point, Anno told us later,

  • he realized that Anne was hurt by his statements about gay marriage,

  • and he started to question his own assumptions.

  • And after talking for three hours,

  • Anne invited Anno to her summer party,

  • and today, years later,

  • they still meet from time to time and are friends.

  • So our algorithm matched, for example, this court bailiff.

  • He's also a spokesperson of the right-wing populist party AfD in Germany,

  • and this counselor for pregnant women.

  • She used to be an active member of the Green Party.

  • We even matched this professor and his student.

  • (Laughter)

  • It's an algorithm.

  • (Laughter)

  • We also matched a father-in-law and his very own daughter-in-law,

  • because, obviously, they live close by but have really different opinions.

  • So as a general rule,

  • we did not observe, record, document the discussions,

  • because we didn't want people to perform in any way.

  • But I made an exception.

  • I took part myself.

  • And so I met in my trendy Berlin neighborhood called Prenzlauer Berg,

  • I met Mirko.

  • This is me talking to Mirko. Mirko didn't want to be in the picture.

  • He's a young plant operator,

  • and he looked like all the hipsters in our area,

  • like with a beard and a beanie.

  • We were talking for hours, and I found him to be a wonderful person.

  • And despite the fact that we had really different opinions

  • about most of the topics --

  • maybe with the exception of women's rights,

  • where I couldn't comprehend his thoughts --

  • it was really nice.

  • After our discussion, I Googled Mirko.

  • And I found out that in his teenage years, he used to be a neo-Nazi.

  • So I called him and asked,

  • "Hey, why didn't you tell me?"

  • And he said, "You know, I didn't tell you because I want to get over it.

  • I just don't want to talk about it anymore."

  • I thought that people with a history like that could never change,

  • and I had to rethink my assumptions,

  • as did many of the participants who sent us thousands of emails

  • and also selfies.

  • No violence was recorded whatsoever.

  • (Laughter)

  • And we just don't know if some of the pairs got married.

  • (Laughter)

  • But, at least, we were really excited and wanted to do it again,

  • especially in version 2.0,

  • wanted to expand the diversity of the participants,

  • because obviously in the first round, they were mainly our readers.

  • And so we embraced our competition

  • and asked other media outlets to join.

  • We coordinated via Slack.

  • And this live collaboration among 11 major German media houses

  • was definitely a first in Germany.

  • The numbers more than doubled: 28,000 people applied this time.

  • And the German president --

  • you see him here in the center of the picture --

  • became our patron.

  • And so, thousands of Germans met again in the summer of 2018

  • to talk to someone else with a different opinion.

  • Some of the pairs we invited to Berlin to a special event.

  • And there, this picture was taken,

  • until today my favorite symbol for "Germany Talks."

  • You see Henrik, a bus driver and boxing trainer,

  • and Engelbert, the director of a children's help center.

  • They answered all of the seven questions we asked differently.

  • They had never met before this day,

  • and they had a really intensive discussion

  • and seemed to get along anyway

  • with each other.

  • So this time we also wanted to know

  • if the discussion would have any impact on the participants.

  • So we asked researchers to survey the participants.

  • And two-thirds of the participants said that they learned something

  • about their partner's attitudes.

  • Sixty percent agreed that their viewpoints converged.

  • The level of trust in society seemed also higher after the event,

  • according to the researchers.

  • Ninety percent said that they enjoyed their discussion.

  • Ten percent said they didn't enjoy their discussion,

  • eight percent only because, simply, their partner didn't show up.

  • (Laughter)

  • After "Germany Talks," we got approached by many international media outlets,

  • and we decided this time to build a serious and secure platform.

  • We called it "My Country Talks."

  • And in this short period of time, "My Country Talks" has already been used

  • for more than a dozen local and national events

  • like "Het grote gelijk" in Belgium or "Suomi puhuu" in Finland

  • or "Britain Talks" in the UK.

  • And as I mentioned at the beginning, we also launched "Europe Talks,"

  • together with 15 international media partners,

  • from the "Financial Times" in the UK to "Helsingin Sanomat" in Finland.

  • Thousands of Europeans met with a total stranger

  • to argue about politics.

  • So far, we have been approached by more than 150 global media outlets,

  • and maybe someday there will be something like "The World Talks,"

  • with hundreds of thousands of participants.

  • But what matters here are not the numbers,

  • obviously.

  • What matters here is ...

  • Whenever two people meet to talk in person for hours

  • without anyone else listening,

  • they change.

  • And so do our societies.

  • They change little by little, discussion by discussion.

  • What matters here is that we relearn

  • how to have these face-to-face discussions,

  • without anyone else listening,

  • with a stranger.

  • Not only with a stranger we are introduced to

  • by a Tinder for politics,

  • but also with a stranger in a pub or in a gym or at a conference.

  • So please meet someone

  • and have an argument

  • and enjoy it very much.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

  • Wow!

  • (Applause)

Now, this is Joanna.

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TED】Jochen Wegner:當我們把成千上萬的陌生人配對起來談論政治時發生了什麼? (【TED】Jochen Wegner: What happened when we paired up thousands of strangers to talk politics (What happened when we paired up thousands of strangers to talk politics | Jochen Wegner))

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    HungPin Chen   發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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