ROFLcon Post-Mortem

Ethan and Danah Keynote Shenanigans
by extraface, on Flickr: danah boyd and Ethan Zuckerman

As I said in my last post, I spent Friday and Saturday at ROFLcon, the conference for the Internet generation. I liveblogged the event as an official volunteer, and it was a blast. In all, I blogged seven sessions and attended eight.

I reached the registration room on Friday morning to get my volunteer badge and t-shirt and then hung around until noon. A bunch of Internet celebs had set up tables to sell their wares– Chad Vader was there, as were various Cat related products.

The keynote was at 1pm, so I headed over with my fellow livebloggers. I wasn’t blogging the opening keynote, so I could just listen. The keynote was called The Future of the World Weird Web given jointly by danah boyd (now of Microsoft NERD) and Ethan Zuckerman (Harvard’s Berkman Center). That’s them in the picture up top, and yes, that is how they were dressed. It was that kind of an event. The highlight of the keynote was that I now know about the Kenyan superhero Makmende.

This was followed by the boyd and Zuckerman moderated panel called The Long View, with old-school viral video heroes such as Joel Veitch of RatherGood.com. If you don’t know who that is, behold the excellentness that is “We Like the Moon”. ‘Cause it is good to us. (my liveblog)

After that, I ran over to the Secret Masters of Digg panel with four of the top front-pagers at Digg.com. I’ve been watching Diggnation for years, so you would think I would enjoy this, but not so much. It was OK, and maybe informational if you social media success was your goal in life. But it isn’t my goal. (my liveblog)

That panel was followed by the best one of the conference– I can haz dream? Race and the Internet. Baratunde Thurston is the web editor of The Onion and is a regular web presence with his comedy and political insight. Christian Lander writes Stuff People Like. Put these two guys together and you have banter that could rival the best of late night TV comedy. My liveblog is here, if you can get a gist of their humor. The two girls who run My Mom is a FOB were good, but unfortunately found themselves on stage with a couple of star comedians.

Baratunde Thurston
by neoneuromancer, on Flickr: Christian Lander, Baratunde Thurston

Finally, I ran back to the main hall for the final panel for the day– And Then the Internet Swooped In. This one featured people who’s ordinary life had become the stuff of viral videos and shared links on the Internet, and their lives were never the same. Like David and his son David, who most famously said “Is this real life?” while on drugs after visiting the dentist. And the guy who owned Keyboard Cat. And Mahir Cagri, who’s personal web site was an Internet meme before people called them memes. And who is– allegedly– the inspiration for the many quirks of Borat. My liveblog is here, and yes, Mahir does actually randomly say the word sex in the middle of an unrelated sentence.

Internet celebs to millions
by ekai, on Flickr: Mahir, David jr, David sr, Charlie Schmidt (owner, keyboard cat)

The next morning, Saturday, I got there just before 10am. I had waffles at the WAFLcon table, and walked in for the keynote. It was by Kevan Atteberry, the guy who created Clippy— the annoying animated paperclip who insisted on helping you to use Microsoft Office.

The main takeaways from that keynote were– Clippy was designed on a Mac and Kevan was not responsible for the functionality. Only the animation. He was amusing, and everyone had a few good laughs at Microsoft’s expense. (my liveblog not on roflcon.org yet)

After that, I blogged the Running the Tubes session. This was a panel about some of the infrastructure that supports the viral Internet. I would just like to say that Pete Hottelet of Omni Consumer Products Corporation was the funniest person at ROFLcon. When my liveblog shows up on the site, I will put a link here; but I don’t think I caught all his one-liners in the blog. He was really good. Some of the other guys were trying to answer the questions seriously; not this guy. Also, the name of his company may seem serious, but it’s quite the opposite. Look it up on Wikipedia.

At lunch, Matt of the “Where’s Matt” videos (where he does the same silly dance at different locations around the world) did a dance with a group of people in front of the Stata Center at MIT. You’ll probably see it on YouTube some day.

The last session I attended was Johannes Grenzfurthner of monochrom. What is monochrom? In their own words, an unpeculiar mixture of proto-aesthetic fringe work, pop attitude, subcultural science and political activism. They do subversive, confrontational, context-hacking stunts. Quite magnificent.

This is him in Soviet garb from an earlier session:
Ambassador Nikita Chrusov
by Mirka23, on Flickr: Ambassador Nikita Chrusov

For a gist of the kind of things monochrom does, read about Georg Paul Thomann, the non-existent artist who saved a country from becoming non-existent.

That was my last session of the day, and of ROFLcon. It was great fun. I will add more pictures, maybe video and links to liveblogs as they become available.

IMG_5260
(by Mr. Babyman, on Flickr: this was written on the wall at the bottom of a very long flight of stairs in building 54 at MIT.)

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