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  • Every presentation needs this slide in it.

  • (Laughter)

  • It's beautiful, isn't it?

  • Do you see?

  • All the points, all the lines --

  • it's incredible.

  • It is the network;

  • and in my case, the network has been important in media,

  • because I get to connect to people.

  • Isn't it amazing?

  • Through that, I connect to people.

  • And the way that I've been doing it

  • has been multifaceted.

  • For example, I get people to dress up their vacuum cleaners.

  • (Laughter)

  • I put together projects like Earth Sandwich,

  • where I ask people

  • to try and simultaneously place

  • two pieces of bread

  • perfectly opposite each other on the Earth.

  • And people started laying bread in tribute,

  • and eventually a team was able to do it

  • between New Zealand and Spain.

  • It's pretty incredible -- the video's online.

  • Connecting to people in projects

  • like YoungmeNowme for example.

  • In YoungmeNowme, the audience was asked

  • to find a childhood photograph of themselves

  • and restage it as an adult.

  • (Laughter)

  • This is the same person --

  • top photo, James, bottom photo, [Jennifer].

  • Poignant.

  • This was a Mother's Day gift.

  • (Laughter)

  • Particularly creepy.

  • (Applause)

  • (Laughter)

  • My favorite of these photos, which I couldn't find,

  • is there's a picture of a 30 year-old woman or so

  • with a little baby on her lap,

  • and the next photo is a 220-lb man

  • with a tiny, little old lady peaking over his shoulder.

  • But this project changed the way

  • that I thought about connecting to people.

  • This is project called Ray.

  • And what happened was I was sent this piece of audio

  • and had no idea who generated the audio.

  • Somebody said, "You have to listen to this."

  • And this is what came to me.

  • Recording: Hi, my name is Ray,

  • and on yesterday my daughter called me

  • because she was stressed out

  • because of things that were going on on her job

  • that she felt was quite unfair.

  • Being quite disturbed, she called for comfort,

  • and I didn't really know what to tell her,

  • because we have to deal with so much mess in our society.

  • So I was led to write this song just for her,

  • just to give her some encouragement

  • while dealing with stress and pressures on her job.

  • And I figured I'd put it on the Internet

  • for all employees under stress

  • to help you better deal with what you're going through on your job.

  • Here's how the song goes.

  • ♫ I'm about to whip somebody's ass

  • Oh, I'm about to whip somebody's ass

  • Oh, if you don't leave me alone, ♫

  • you gonna have to send me home

  • ♫ 'Cause I'm about to whip somebody's ass

  • Now you might not be able to sing that out loud,

  • but you can hum it to yourself, and you know what the words are.

  • And let it give you some strength to get the next few moments on your job.

  • All right. Stay strong. Peace.

  • Ze Frank: So -- yeah.

  • No, no, no, shush. We've got to go quickly.

  • So I was so moved by this --

  • this is incredible. This was connecting, right.

  • This was, at a distance,

  • realizing that someone was feeling something,

  • wanting to affect them in a particular way,

  • using media to do it, putting it online

  • and realizing that there was a greater impact.

  • This was incredible; this is what I wanted to do.

  • So the first thing I thought of is we have to thank him.

  • And I asked my audience, I said, "Listen to this piece of audio.

  • We have to remix it. He's got a great voice.

  • It's actually in the key of B flat.

  • And have to do something with it."

  • Hundreds of remixes came back -- lots of different attempts.

  • One stood out in particular.

  • It was done by a guy named Goose.

  • Remix: ♫ I'm about to whip somebody's ass

  • Oh, I'm about to whip somebody's ass

  • Oh, if you don't leave me alone, ♫

  • You gonna have to send me home

  • Cuz I'm about to whip somebody's ass

  • ♫ I'm about to whip some ♫ --

  • ZF: Great, so it was incredible.

  • That song -- (Applause) Thank you.

  • So that song, somebody told me that it was at a baseball game

  • in Kansas City.

  • In the end,

  • it was one of the top downloads

  • on a whole bunch of music streaming services.

  • And so I said, "Let's put this together in an album."

  • And the audience came together, and they designed an album cover.

  • And I said, "If you put it all on this, I'm going to deliver it to him,

  • if you can figure out who this person is,"

  • because all I had was his name -- Ray --

  • and this little piece of audio

  • and the fact that his daughter was upset.

  • In two weeks, they found him.

  • I received and email and it said,

  • "Hi, I'm Ray.

  • I heard you were looking for me."

  • (Laughter)

  • And I was like, "Yeah, Ray.

  • It's been an interesting two weeks."

  • And so I flew to St. Louis

  • and met Ray,

  • and he's a preacher --

  • (Laughter)

  • among other things.

  • So but anyways, here's the thing --

  • is it reminds me of this,

  • which is a sign that you see in Amsterdam on every street corner.

  • And it's sort of a metaphor for me for the virtual world.

  • I look at this photo, and he seems really interested

  • in what's going on with that button,

  • but it doesn't seem like he is really that interested in crossing the street.

  • (Laughter)

  • And it makes me think of this.

  • On street corners everywhere, people are looking at their cell phones,

  • and it's easy to dismiss this

  • as some sort of bad trend

  • in human culture.

  • But the truth is

  • life is being lived there.

  • When they smile --

  • right, you've seen people stop --

  • all of a sudden, life is being lived there,

  • somewhere up in that weird, dense network.

  • And this is it, right, to feel and be felt.

  • It's the fundamental force

  • that we're all after.

  • We can build all sorts of environments

  • to make it a little bit easier,

  • but ultimately, what we're trying to do

  • is really connect with one other person.

  • And that's not always going to happen in physical spaces.

  • It's also going to now happen in virtual spaces,

  • and we have to get better at figuring that out.

  • I think, of the people that build all this technology in the network,

  • a lot of them aren't very good

  • at connecting with people.

  • This is kind of like something I used to do

  • in third grade.

  • (Laughter)

  • So here's a series of projects

  • over the last few years

  • where I've been inspired by trying to figure out

  • how to really facilitate close connection.

  • Sometimes they're very, very simple things.

  • A Childhood Walk, which is a project

  • where I ask people to remember a walk

  • that they used to take as a child over and over again

  • that was sort of meaningless --

  • like on the route to the bus stop, to a neighbor's house,

  • and take it inside of Google Streetview.

  • And I promise you,

  • if you take that walk inside Google Streetview,

  • you come to a moment

  • where something comes back

  • and hits you in the face.

  • And I collected those moments --

  • the photos inside Google Streetview

  • and the memories, specifically.

  • "Our conversation started with me saying, 'I'm bored,'

  • and her replying, 'When I'm bored I eat pretzels.'

  • I remember this distinctly because it came up a lot."

  • "Right after he told me and my brother

  • he was going to be separating from my mom,

  • I remember walking to a convenience store

  • and getting a cherry cola."

  • "They used some of the morbidly artist footage,

  • a close-up of Chad's shoes in the middle of the highway.

  • I guess the shoes came off when he was hit.

  • He slept over at my house once, and he left his pillow.

  • It had 'Chad' written in magic marker on it.

  • He died long after he left the pillow at my house,

  • but we never got around to returning it."

  • Sometimes they're a little bit more abstract.

  • This is Pain Pack.

  • Right after September 11th, last year,

  • I was thinking about pain and the way that we disperse it,

  • the way that we excise it from our bodies.

  • So what I did is I opened up a hotline --

  • a hotline where people could leave voicemails of their pain,

  • not necessarily related to that event.

  • And people called in and left messages like this.

  • Recording: Okay, here's something.

  • I'm not alone,

  • and I am loved.

  • I'm really fortunate.

  • But sometimes I feel really lonely.

  • And when I feel that way

  • even the smallest act of kindness

  • can make me cry.

  • Like even people in convenience stores

  • saying, "Have a nice day,"

  • when they're accidentally looking me in the eye.

  • ZF: So what I did was I took those voicemails,

  • and with their permission, converted them to MP3s

  • and distributed them to sound editors

  • who created short sounds

  • using just those voicemails.

  • And those were then distributed to DJs

  • who have made hundreds of songs

  • using that source material.

  • (Music)

  • We don't have time to play much of it.

  • You can look at it online.

  • "From 52 to 48 with love"

  • was a project around the time of the last election cycle,

  • where McCain and Obama both,

  • in their speeches after the election, talked about reconciliation,

  • and I was like, "What the hell

  • does that look like?"

  • So I thought, "Well let's just give it a try.

  • Let's have people hold up signs about reconciliation."

  • And so some really nice things came together.

  • "I voted blue. I voted red.

  • Together, for our future."

  • These are very, very cute little things right.

  • Some came from the winning party.

  • "Dear 48, I promise to listen to you, to fight for you, to respect you always."

  • Some came from the party who had just lost.

  • "From a 48 to a 52, may your party's leadership be as classy as you,

  • but I doubt it."

  • But the truth was that as this start becoming popular,

  • a couple rightwing blogs and some message boards

  • apparently found it to be a little patronizing,

  • which I could also see.

  • And so I started getting amazing amounts of hate mail,

  • death threats even.

  • And one guy in particular kept on writing me these pretty awful messages,

  • and he was dressed as Batman.

  • And he said, "I'm dressed as Batman to hide my identity."

  • Just in case I thought the real Batman

  • was coming after me;

  • which actually made me feel a little better --

  • like, "Phew, it's not him."

  • So what I did --

  • unfortunately, I was harboring all this kind of

  • awful experience and this pain inside of me,

  • and it started to eat away at my psyche.

  • And I was protecting the project from it, I realized. I was protecting it --

  • I didn't want this special, little group of photographs