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TEDSalon 2006

Rives: If I controlled the Internet

November 30, 2006

How many poets could cram eBay, Friendster and Monster.com into 3-minute poem worthy of a standing ovation? Enjoy Rives' unique talent.

Rives - Performance poet, multimedia artist
Performance artist and storyteller Rives has been called "the first 2.0 poet," using images, video and technology to bring his words to life. Full bio

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Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
I wrote this poem after hearing a pretty well known actress
00:26
tell a very well known interviewer on television,
00:30
"I'm really getting into the Internet lately.
00:33
I just wish it were more organized."
00:35
So ...
00:37
(Laughter)
00:38
If I controlled the Internet,
00:42
you could auction your broken heart on eBay.
00:45
Take the money; go to Amazon;
00:49
buy a phonebook for a country you've never been to -- call folks at random
00:51
until you find someone who flirts really well in a foreign language.
00:55
(Laughter)
00:58
If I were in charge of the Internet,
00:59
you could Mapquest your lover's mood swings.
01:01
Hang left at cranky, right at preoccupied,
01:04
U-turn on silent treatment,
01:08
all the way back to tongue kissing and good lovin'.
01:10
You could navigate and understand every emotional intersection.
01:13
Some days, I'm as shallow as a baking pan,
01:16
but I still stretch miles in all directions.
01:19
If I owned the Internet, Napster, Monster and Friendster.com
01:21
would be one big website.
01:27
That way you could listen to cool music
01:29
while you pretend to look for a job
01:31
and you're really just chattin' with your pals.
01:33
(Laughter)
01:35
Heck, if I ran the Web, you could email dead people.
01:36
(Laughter)
01:40
They would not email you back
01:42
(Laughter) --
01:44
but you'd get an automated reply.
01:45
(Laughter)
01:47
Their name in your inbox
01:49
(Laughter) --
01:51
it's all you wanted anyway.
01:52
And a message saying, "Hey, it's me. I miss you.
01:54
(Laughter)
01:57
Listen, you'll see being dead is dandy.
01:58
Now you go back to raising kids and waging peace and craving candy."
02:01
If I designed the Internet, childhood.com would be a loop
02:05
of a boy in an orchard, with a ski pole for a sword,
02:10
trashcan lid for a shield, shouting, "I am the emperor of oranges.
02:15
I am the emperor of oranges. I am the emperor of oranges."
02:18
Now follow me, OK?
02:21
(Laughter)
02:22
Grandma.com would be a recipe for biscuits and spit-bath instructions.
02:23
One, two, three.
02:26
That links with hotdiggitydog.com.
02:28
That is my grandfather.
02:30
They take you to gruff-ex-cop-on-his-fourth-marriage.dad.
02:32
He forms an attachment to
02:34
kind-of-ditzy-but-still-sends-ginger-snaps-for-Christmas.mom,
02:35
who downloads the boy in the orchard, the emperor of oranges,
02:37
who grows up to be me --
02:41
the guy who usually goes too far.
02:44
So if I were emperor of the Internet,
02:46
I guess I'd still be mortal, huh?
02:49
But at that point, I would probably
02:52
already have the lowest possible mortgage
02:54
and the most enlarged possible penis
02:58
(Laughter) --
03:00
so I would outlaw spam on my first day in office.
03:01
I wouldn't need it.
03:03
I'd be like some kind of Internet genius, and me,
03:05
I'd like to upgrade to deity and maybe just like that --
03:07
pop! -- I'd go wireless.
03:11
(Laughter)
03:14
Huh? Maybe Google would hire this.
03:15
I could zip through your servers and firewalls like a virus
03:17
until the World Wide Web is as wise, as wild and as organized
03:19
as I think a modern-day miracle/oracle can get, but, ooh-eee,
03:23
you want to bet just how whack and un-PC
03:28
your Mac or PC is going to be when I'm rocking
03:32
hot-shit-hot-shot-god.net?
03:34
I guess it's just like life.
03:36
It is not a question of if you can --
03:38
it's: do ya?
03:40
We can interfere with the interface.
03:42
We can make "You've got Hallelujah" the national anthem of cyberspace
03:44
every lucky time we log on.
03:47
You don't say a prayer.
03:49
You don't write a psalm.
03:51
You don't chant an "om."
03:53
You send one blessed email to whomever you're thinking of
03:55
at dah-da-la-dat-da-dah-da-la-dat.com.
03:59
Thank you, TED.
04:05
(Applause)
04:06

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Rives - Performance poet, multimedia artist
Performance artist and storyteller Rives has been called "the first 2.0 poet," using images, video and technology to bring his words to life.

Why you should listen

Part poet, part storyteller, part philosopher, Rives is the co-host of TEDActive as well as a frequent TED speaker. On stage, his poems burst in many directions, exposing multiple layers and unexpected treats: childhood memories, grown-up humor, notions of love and lust, of what is lost forever and of what's still out there waiting to unfold. Chimborazo.

A regular on HBO's Def Poetry Jam, Rives also starred alongside model Bar Refaeli in the 2008 Bravo special Ironic Iconic America, touring the United States on a "roller coaster ride through the eye-popping panorama of American pop culture." Flat pages can't contain his storytelling, even when paper is his medium. The pop-up books he creates for children unfold with surprise: The Christmas Pop-Up Present expands to reveal moving parts, hidden areas and miniature booklets inside. 

His latest project—the Museum of Four in the Morning—is an ode to a time that may well be part of a global conspiracy. In a good way.  

The original video is available on TED.com
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