Archive for the ‘ROFLCon’ Category

Friday Night’s Alright for Fighting

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Not that there was any fighting on my Friday night, but there was a party. It was on a roof of the Harvard Science Center with a telescope. It was *Shambles: The Party* a manifestation the ROFLCon staff’s “abundant but abstract gratefulness [to the volunteers] into physical form,” and general Team Fatty event. There was Blue Ribbon BBQ, which I came to learn was integral in the genesis of Team Fatty. TF is a loosely formed group that made the mistake of incentivizing overeating; blatantly disregarding the results of a study which indicated that obesity is a social phenomenon. Blue Ribbon and Redbones vie for the title of best BBQ in Boston. I am undecided between the two, I only know that my summer in Texas eating at Rudys has spoiled me. If this is really the best BBQ new england has to offer then this is a sad, sad, state of affairs. That said, it was enjoyable food wise.

Harvard Yard Harvard Observatory Telescope The Moon Over Downtown

Aside from the great views and the food, it was fun to get a chance to see everyone again a month after the conference. I did actually pass one of them around town in the mean time, a sure sign that my plans to meet new people are not completely failing. I also met a girl named Lorelai at the party. She does not look and is not particularly similar to the Gilmore Girls character, but I have actually never met anyone with that name before. It isn’t particularly significant, but I was surprised and interested when she told me her name, and it showed. We had a above average chat until her boyfriend arrived. I later learned she was a vegetarian, so it doesn’t matter anyways in that regard.

As far as discussion topics go there was a great debate over whether it was a conference, where academics meet to discuss issues, or a convention, where fans go to meet celebrities in a given genre. I wasn’t really aware of the consciousness of this choice before; by the time I found out about ROFLCon the format was already well formed, and it sort of was what it was. It was both, a hybrid, with a lean towards conference, at least in my mind. The staff believes that this was instrumental in the success of both convincing internet celebrities to come as well as the success of the overall event. The open question remains how to tweak this delicate balance for the future.

ROFLCon Redux

Monday, May 26th, 2008

After a month or so of waiting videos from ROFLCon are still seeping slowly onto the net. This one answers the question of who the G4 reporter was. This one has more footage that I saw them shoot; although, I must say that I don’t care for Leslie Hall. Anyways, there is much more going on. The ROFLCon staff all recently posted postmortems on the event.

[ChristinaXu] [RachelPopkin] [DianaKimble] [TimHwang]

I don’t have an insider’s perspective like they do, and my previous posts perform that function from my perspective. However, the raw webcast feeds of the panels are also coming online slowly but surely. Like many of the volunteers and staff I missed almost all of the panels, so I’ve been watching the videos as a way to kill boring nights. My first impressions are that, wow, are these panels really long. Almost so long that I’m sort of glad I didn’t sit through them in person, (but not quite). Seeing as I missed the opportunity to live blog then panels, I’m going to take the video as an opportunity to blog about whatever aspect of them interests me. I decided that I had little time or skill for video editing, which could accomplish this goal in a rich media way, so enjoy all the text.

Opening Keynote and You Can Get Paid for This?

Opening Keynote:
david weinberger keynote
David Weinberger opened the conference by discussing fame and how the internet changes the nature of fame. This change, of course, provided all the conference guests. If you want a taste of the talk without spending an hour there is a really good video summery by rocketbomb. I disagree with him on one point. He thinks that misspellings, unpolished writing, and general lack of care in blogs is a good thing; that it provides a sense of intimacy. He says that this sense of intimacy comes from a need to pre-forgive the problems with the blog. I agree with that statement, but I don’t think that we should stop aspiring to a polished product. If I care about my readers and I care about my topic I should be motivated to write well. Although it may not seem this way, I am. Although, I do think that such things are forgivable on a blog, and not for a professional, I don’t think that being polished takes anything away from the blogging experience. This is something he implies rater strongly.

You Can Get Paid For This:
The real star of this panel for me was Ian Spector of Chuck Norris Facts. I suppose I just identified with him, as someone spending a weekend night bored and doing stuff on the internet. He had many other random fact generating sites before a poll on those sites lead him to make one for Chuck Norris, then fame, then a book, then a lawsuit.

The one red paper clip guy was not anything like who I imagined. The same was true for the million dollar homepage guy. They are both much younger than I thought. I don’t know why I would think older people would have come up with these great ideas, but until I was faced with them it did not occur to me. This isn’t a problem I have with other memes (that I’ve noticed), just these two.

As far as the actual panel topic is concerned. I was interested to here how Joe Mathlete of Marmaduke Explained made money. He did the usual T-Shirt thing for a while, but also accepted charitable donations until people sent him money and he began to feel weird about that. It seems currently he’s not making money from the site and is just hoping to not get sued. That I can understand. It was somewhat interesting to see how sorely JibJab stands out from the crowd with their corporate deals and infrastructure. It seems that they really are a sort of shadow marketing firm that happened to hit it big and are now trying to recreate their success. Shadow marketing firm is a bit wrong, because they are only trying to do it for themselves, they aren’t a hired gun as that term implies.

As I watch more videos, I’ll post more commentary, and link to it from here.

ROFLCon After Party

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

This is the most recent ROFLCon post, please scroll down and start with the first post.

Outside Great Scott There are some fun stories from at Great Scott as well, that I just don’t have time to outline. The long and the short of it is that its a great idea to go to a dance party with a whole slew of people from the internet. The DJ’s there were awesome and played all the great internet dance tunes including numa numa. I actually danced for the first time since leaving college and the relative safety of the parties thrown by my geeky friends.

I left around 12:30, by this point feeling practical and worrying about how I was going to get home. I took the 66 bus from Alston to Harvard and walked from there. I was on the bus with two conference attendees and one girl, who works at an apple store and just came by for the open to the public after party. The attendees were very happy with the con overall, but thought that Anonymous was not a good addition, citing their efforts to disrupt the Internet Cult Leaders panel. We discussed all the memes that were not at the con and how much longer it would have to be if they really got everyone. All in all it was a great time. If they do it again next year I need to get on the team, not just a volunteer.

ROFLCon VIP After Party

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

After the panel there I spent some more time hawking shwag, followed by some cleaning. Exciting stuff I know. I did get a chance to apologize to Randall for being a complete creep the previous night. He said he would let Ryan North, who was also there, know, and that was that. I feel much about the whole thing now. We, the ROFLCon team and volunteers did polish a whole cold pizza left from lunch while cleaning. I am normally very opposed to cold pizza, citing prevalence of microwaves in avoiding the normally breakfast food. I can say, with confidence, that a cold slice of pizza has never tasted so good to me. During cleanup we also had some fun, captured in this video that I uploaded from the MIT Media lab while waiting for the shuttle bus to the VIP after party.

The VIP after part was awesome. Definitely the best part of the whole thing for me. It was held in the office space of Barbarian Group, a web advertising company and included an open bar. Everyone I talked to there was either:

  1. A Barbarian Employee
  2. A ROFLCon team member or volunteer
  3. Famous on the Internet

The first group I joined after acquiring a rum and coke were some people, including team members and the Mozilla guy talking to moot about what kind of opportunities he can parlay his current skill set into. This way he doesn’t end up 37 and breaking even on 4chan, a fear he discussed in the panel on “Internet Cult Leaders.”

After grabbing some of the tasty food I came across Diana Kimble and Rachel Popkin who were being told that they had “Won the Internet” with the con by Joe Peacock of Mentally Incontinent. This seemed to be the general consensus, at least among the memes. I also saw Tron Guy telling Diana roughly the same thing earlier in the day. More on how people felt about the con later on.

Diana and Tron Guy Cheez

I sat down at the party with Cheez of icanhascheezburger. Finally a meme I’m familiar with! As many of you know I dislike the predominant name for what he has created and fostered, LOLCats, compared with Cat Macros. Given the chance I decided to get his first hand opinion on why one name is more popular. He feels that “Cat Macros” is more technical than “LOLCats,” citing that the term macro is not widely understood outside tech circles. He also discussed the familiarity even normal people have with the term LOL, and how including that term in the name draws in a wider audience because it makes them more accessible. Given the obvious technical superiority of the Cat Macro’s name I had not considered these arguments. And in the end it was totally sweet to get some kind of resolution of this undercurrent straight from Cheez. I think you won’t be hearing much about this anymore.

Between that VIP after party and the late night after party, while I was again waiting for the shuttle bus, I walked off with some people searching for warmth and coffee in a Starbucks. There was one just a few storefronts away, but someone’s iphone said that it was closing in 10 minutes. Apparently that was unacceptable so we trekked four blocks to the next closest one. Of course that someone turned out to be Justine Ezarik of iJustine and the 300 page iphone bill. On the way there I ended up talking to Joe Mathlete of Marmaduke Explained. Inside none of us could get this cute blond meme to tell us what she’s famous for. Of course, with a picture and a list on the internet nothing stays secret for long, she turned out to be Brookers. On the bus to Great Scott I talked to some more cool people, whom’s names I forget. One of them was a web developer for 4chan, another a marketer for Super Deluxe, and her significant other who “makes things”.

Starbucks Run

ROFLCon Internet Cult Leaders Panel

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

Internet Cult Leaders Pannel 1 Internet Cult Leaders Pannel 2

I took a reprieve from hawking shwag at 4:30 for the most anticipated panel of the convention, “Internet Cult Leaders,” featuring Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics, Randall Munroe of xkcd, and moot of 4chan. I’m of course an xkcd fan, I’ve head of Dinosaur Comics through that, and I had no idea what 4chan was before the talk. I have some videos on you tube from the panel that should provide good flavor [1] [2] [3].

The problem with this panel was that most of it was just fanboyism gone wild. I’ve heard all the questions asked of Randall there before, and I know the answers, and the history of the answers over time. I really found moot’s contributions to be the most interesting. Probably because I was unfamiliar with him and what he does beforehand.

ROFLCon Hawking Shwag

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

During the Making It Big panel I took on some guard/badge checking responsibilities since they were understaffed for that. Afterwards I went outside the auditorium and began staffing the registration/info/shwag sales desk. I spent most of the day hawking t-shirts, lunch boxes, and reddit bobble heads. I also had some exciting free stuff to give out, firefox sitckers and action pads.

Firefox Stickers Action Pad

Shwag Desk Bordem The Lunchbox.

ROFLCon Making it Big

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

On Saturday I got to sleep in as my first volunteer shift was to start at 12:30. I actually slept through the keynote at 10am, which was probably a mistake. I got to the con at around 11am, just as the keynote was ending. The next panel was “Making it Big.” It included Michael and Matthew Chapman of Homestar Runner, Burnie Burns of Red vs. Blue. I have seen both of these and instantly recognize that they have certainly made it big. There were also two groups I’d never heard of Brad Neely (othercriteria’s photo) of Super Deluxe, and three of four guys from Cyanide & Happiness. This was surprisingly the best (of the two) panels I was able to attend. It was all about how and how long it took each of them to reach the monetary break even point. And then how much longer for them to quit their jobs, if they have been able to do that. There were a wide variety of interesting answers, that I can’t detail.

Making it Big Panel

There were some interesting details about the memes themselves that were revealed:

  • Homestar Runner does not suffer from down syndrome.
  • They actually still make new Homestar Runner episodes.
  • A Homestar Runner game for the Wii is in the making.
  • Red vs. Blue’s sound was based on the quality of the overseas telephone signal one of the voice actors had to use in the early days.
  • Burnie Burns is a staunch defender of Homestar Runner.
  • Brad Nealy doesn’t know anything about the internet or the other memes.

The firefox asked all the panelists about their use of open standards, which received a lackluster response. One of the Homestar Runner guys espoused the joys of firefox use, but did not address the fact that their medium, Flash, is not an open standard. The other panelists, some of whom, produce videos using closed standards as well did not comment. This disappointed the firefox.

ROFLCon Friday Night

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

I eventually worked out a plan with my room mates to go out for drinks in Davis Square. Something we all rarely do. Sriram and a friend of his were on their way back from downtown on the T, and I managed to leave at the perfect time to catch the same train as them, in the same car, without waiting. I am quite impressed with that, maybe too much. But it took a lot of timing and coordination that I actually didn’t even know that I knew.

When we got to Davis they were hungry so we went to crepe place there. I am not a fan of crepes, although the place did smell good. I ran into one of my coworkers there and had to yet again explain what ROFLCon is. That is rather hard, because people don’t seem to be familiar with the term “Internet Meme” and its hard to tell what, if any memes an individual has heard of. We were soon joined by a friend of Srirams friend, who, is doing a PHD on television and video game culture, but hadn’t heard of ROFLCon in time to register. I took some time to steal some free internet from the Boston IFF that was going on in the theater next door to upload some more pictures to flickr. We also checked out a flash game called Magic Pen.

After crepes and Andreas and Claudia joining us we went to Sagra for drinks. This place was great. It was quiet and fancy. Which is may more my thing than a loud noisy bar where we’ll struggle to hear each other and have to stand all night. I was already pretty tired and as countless discussions upon which I could provide no comment went on I longed to go home.

On the way home I finally ran into Randall Munroe on the street! He lives like within a few blocks of me, but I’ve never seen him in the grocery store or walking to the T, or on his electric skateboard. But tonight, with ROFLCon in town I saw him, and a large posse, including Ryan North on my walk home. Literally crossing my street. I clearly recognized them, and asked were they were heading. To which they replied, “This way.” Which, given the obviousness of the answer, I took as “You’re a creep don’t follow us.” I wasn’t really together enough to follow them anyways having already had a 17 hour day. So I didn’t. But it was clear that he didn’t recognize me — damn it. My ROFLCon staff shirt was by now covered by a coat, so that clue wasn’t visible to tip me off as not just some sketchy dude. But it’s not like I haven’t met Randal like for or five times by now, and even shared a dinner plate. But oh well. In retrospect I felt somewhat bad about how the whole exchange went down.

That was pretty much the day day. I went to bed around 1am.

ROFLCon Friday Afternoon

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

I left work around 4pm and headed home and then to ROFLCon itself. Everything at that time was happening in Building 34. After hanging out a bit and realizing that I was going to be much help I went outside, sat down, and opened that flicker account and uploaded my first photos (mostly from Wednesday’s shwag packing event).

Unveiling the Banners 1 Making Bags of Shwag 2

Eventually we packed everything into van signaling the end of the con for the day. I joined the rest of the staff, the firefox, and the Leeroy Jenkins guy for dinner in Central Square. While we were walking to Picante, a burrito place I worked up the nerve to as the Leeroy Jenkis guy (that is not his real name I eventually learned) for what he is famous. He proceeded to give me a first hand account of the World of Warcraft video that made him famous. I think his play by play was even funnier than the video. Dinner was good, this burrito place certainly can compete with Chipotle, and is way more authentic. Also it was slightly cheaper.

Leeroy Jenkins Packing up on Friday

After dinner we walked over to the Middle East, the site of the nights festivities. I ended up not going to the show at the upstairs. It was pretty packed, and having never heard of the bands playing I figured I would let someone else, who cares more, take my spot. Having nothing better to do, however, I stood outside to direct people as to which door to use. The Middle East has a bunch of entrances for different parts, it can be confusing. I saw the G4 crew — from attack of the show I think — film some of their coverage, a staged entrance to the party. I also had a good chat with a member of Anonymous and the webmaster for Group X.

Whats a Hot Blonde Doing Here? Anonymous is Friendly?

ROFLCon Friday Morning

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

I’ve decided to redo this post as sort of a play by play of the weekend, with pictures and links when I have them.

On Friday morning I work up late a 7:15am, apparently having set my alarm for 6pm not am. I was to have arrived at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, which served as home base for the ROFLCon team, to help drive shwag to MIT. Luckily they didn’t really need me, having secured a large van that was able to take everything in two trips.

I’m yet to find a single picture with me in it. So I could just be lying about all of this. But, I’ve got some pictures purportedly taken by myself on my flicker account, so maybe that will convince you. I am sort of ok with that. I think I’m more comfortable reporting the news than being the news. Not that a single picture would make me news, but I think you know what I mean. I’m just trying to document my weekend, for myself. Please don’t take these posts as trying to be cool by association cause I can name drop. My primary goal at the con was to befriend some of the staff, because they, mostly, live in Boston, and that is where I need to find some new cool friends. Anyways, After loading up the van for it’s second trip I went to work; where we manged to fix the bug we were working on by 2:30pm. Usually that is a 6:00pm on Friday kind of thing.