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Prince, Tom Friedman, the Father of the Internet, and Me: Rockin' at the Webbys


Andrew H. Walker

First row: Colin Sterling, Michael Owen, Katharine Zaleski, Andy Yaco-Mink, Katharine Jose. Second row: Sarah Bernard, Jonah Peretti, Roy Sekoff, Arianna Huffington, Dennis Chang, Matt Sussberg.

"Everything you think... is true."

That was Prince's five-word acceptance speech (the Webby limit), and the last of the night at Monday's 10th Annual Webby Awards gala, held in the gorgeous Cipriani restaurant in New York's financial district.

His Royal Badness, the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award, then proceeded to set the room rocking (not the easiest thing to do at the tail end of a 5-hour event), delivering a soulful rendition of "Don't Play Me," while urging the crowd to clap along. But the funk quotient was definitely on the low side in the geek-heavy room. So Prince finished his one song, flung his guitar into the air, let it crash down, and promptly headed out of the building. Very rock star. Very cool.

Earlier, another Lifetime Achievement Award had been given to Dr. Robert Kahn, one of the founding fathers of the Internet. Dr. Kahn didn't fling any guitars but he did offer a brief look back at the early days of the Internet (no, he didn't envision all that's happened with the net from the very beginning), and a glimpse at what he sees as its future. (It has something to do with everything we've ever done or seen being collected and archived in some great, super-secure cyber network. No, not the NSA.) His five-word speech was delivered in binary code on a pressboard poster he held up, drawing a very appreciative laugh from our two tech-head geniuses at the HuffPost table -- Jonah Peretti and Andy Yaco-Mink. His message: "Discover digital objects and handles" (he said we should Google it).

Among the dozens and dozens of byte-sized acceptance speeches (the Webbys honor lots of categories), my favorites included:

BabyCenter: "BabyCenter: You push, we deliver."

JDate (a Jewish dating service): "Jewish American Princesses... smokin'!!"

National Geographic Magazine Online: "More than just bare breasts."

ESPN.com: "Sports? Pornography? Sports? Pornography?... Sports!"

WashingtonPost.com: "Deeper than Deep Throat."

Indeed, there was something of a porn theme to the evening. Besides the above speeches, the puppet-meisters of Avenue Q performed "The Internet is for Porn" from their Tony-winning show, and Daily Show correspondent Rob Corddry, the host of the night's proceedings, touched on the topic a number of times, saying of Flickr: "Photo sharing? Is that what they're calling it these days? Yeah, I did a lot of 'photo sharing' back in the day. Still do."

To read all the five-word speeches go here.

Tom Friedman, who was given a special Webby as Person of the Year, used his 5 words to plug his latest bestseller -- "The world really is flat" -- then gave a funny and savvy talk. He thanked the New York Times for allowing him the rare chance to come out from behind its TimesSelect pay wall ("I will have to charge each of you $50," he warned us), and launched into an impassioned speech about the need for America to develop alternative sources of energy: "Green is the new red, white, and blue." But my favorite Friedman aphorism was the one he ascribed to his dear old grandmother and used to counter the conventional wisdom that the 21st century will belong to China: "Never cede a century to a country that censors Google."

As for me and my five words, the response to my post asking for suggestions was so tremendous, with our commenters offering over 300 five-word speeches, that our HuffPost team kept going back and forth over dinner as to which on I should actually use. Among the top contenders proposed by our readers: "It's all Geek to me," "So, missions CAN be accomplished!", "Couldn't do it without Bush," and "The WMD are located at..." And our editor, Roy Sekoff, came up with two that remained in the running right until I walked on stage: "W's not the only decider" and "The revolution will be blogged."

In the end, I ended up going with the five-word speech offered by HuffPost commenter simonw, with me adding a little self-mocking twist: "Dah-lings," I purred, ratcheting up the accent, "Make blogs, not war."

I considered going with "Make blogs, not fucked-up wars," but cooler heads -- i.e., my partner Kenny Lerer -- prevailed. So thanks to simonw; if you're ever in New York, stop by the office and borrow the Webby for as long as you like.

Follow Arianna Huffington on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ariannahuff