Dolls without Frontiers
During my professional life I have had the opportunity to travel to many countries on all continents and to talk to people with many different mother tongues. Our planet is multilingual. I collected typical dolls from cultures I visited and I started to call them my Cultural Ambassadors. They did not speak, but they expressed values and identities unique to their communities and to their history. When watching them I often felt they wanted to talk to me, wanted to tell me about their centuries old wisdom and life experiences. I told people I met about my Cultural Ambassadors and my friends often wanted to tell me about their own childhood experiences in their home countries and how those experiences differed from what western children were experiencing during their early life in the West.
Back at home I assembled all my Cultural Ambassadors to proudly stand on a visible shelf in my dining room. One day while I was sitting and watching them I realized that they too were watching me. It was obvious they wanted something. They wanted me to finally write down their unique stories! I accepted the challange and writing their stories became a long and rewarding project producing a series of multicultural and multilingual children’s books. I called the series Dolls Without Frontiers. For each book in the series I took as a starting point one of the childhood experiences my friends had told me about. In this way each book become to reflect a true childhood experience from a specific culture long ago and far away. I wanted the stories to become meeting places where people from different cultures could meet, share their experiences and learn from each other. Each book offers a unique cultural insight to convey to the child and to its parent. I also contacted translators who could translate every story into the language used in the country of the story, the mother tongue of the person who inspired me to document the childhood experience as an engaging story. All the books in the series are therefore multilingual. Finally I asked local artists to illustrate the stories from their local cultiral perspectives. In this way the series Dolls Without Frontiers become both multilingual and multicultural. Finally I uploaded the books as Kindle books on Amazon.
The birth of a new story teller
It has taken millennia for our languages to emerge and develop into the multilingual environment we live in today. This trend will continue, but a new trend is developing and it will have a enormus and unpredictable effect on how we communicate here on our planet. We live today in the Digital Age. Internet and digital communication can be viewed as a new nervous system growing on our planet. This facilitates multilingual communication across continents and communities enormously. This has facilitated a new story teller in the Digital Age to be born. This story teller has deep roots in the intellectual propeties of mankind and will have dramatic effects on communication. I refer to Artificial Intelligence, embodied by the software tool ChatGPT. This computer software tool can write and talk most languages in use today. Ask it and it will create and tell you any story you may want, from any cultural environment you want. Many writers are very concerned, but this robot is with us already. Tell it your story idea, your report subject or whatever you want to write about and any language you want it to use. This tool will deliver the text to you instantly, and it can talk and illustrate your story.
How will this newborn robot equipped at birth with artificial intelligence and extraordinary language skills influence reading, writing, language, image creation, creativity and interaction on our planet? I do not know. But, one thing I do know: We need to talk about it, talk about it now! We need to be prepared for a new multicultural and multilingual planet.