Joho the Blog » roflcon

May 4, 2012

[roflcon] Microfame

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

Matt Oswald drew Me Gusta. He’s now an illustrator because of the drawing that made him famous.

Nate Stern is Huh Guy. He was in an AT&T commercial in which he said “Huh.” He submitted it to Reddit. The line in the script was “Say what now?” but they asked him to improvise. Nate says that he went up to Jonathan Zittrain who had put up a picture of the Huh guy during his excellent keynote, and said, “You’re much better looking than the Huh Guy.” JZ said thank you. “And that’s how micro famous I am. I wasn’t recognized by a guy who referenced me in his talk.”

Chris Torres is the Nyan Cat guy.

Paul Vasquez made the Double Rainbow video. “It was a spiritual experience. I need to bring spirituality to humanity.” He wants to “bring people together under the colors of the rainbow.”

Nate says that now you’re famous on the Internet for 1.5 seconds. Chris says that he is never recognized. No one ever knows the people behind the drawings. “Is that frustrating?” asks our host, Mike Rugnetta. “I love it,” Chris replies. He loves seeing the drawing reproduced. “It’s an amazing thing knowing that people love your work.”

Paul says that when Jimmy Kimmel played his video, it exploded. Microsoft wanted to do a video with him. “I’d been a hermit for a long time, and all of a sudden humanity was paying attention to me because I saw this rainbow. You’re not seeing me in it. You see it through my third eye, which is also my camera.” He says the camera didn’t capture the fact that the rainbow was a complete disk, a giant eye. What could have an eye that big? “God could.” A high school flew him out there, performed a play while he sat on a throne. They took him to a lake and he was wondering if he’s supposed to go swimming with high schoolers…and there was the rainbow again. “That’s why I video everything. Otherwise no one would believe it.”

Mike asks about the intersection of Net memes and mainstream media. Paul points to how much mainstream media coverage he’s gotten. “They’ve been kind to me, probably because I’m not in it.”

Chris says that Conan did a parody of it. Time featured it. “It’s mind blowing that mainstream media cover it.” He thinks the mainstrea generally does “get” it, although they’re wrong about other Net phenomena, such as Anonymous.

Nate says that people were suspicious that AT&T was orchestrating the meme. The Reddit upvotes barely beat out the downvotes. But he says that AT&T thinks that it’s popular because people like the commercial.

Matt: “My experience with Me Gusta and the media is zero.” It started on 4chan and became more popular on Reddit. He says he thinks of it as the Internet’s property now.

Nate: We try to figure out why some memes go viral, but there are always another 100 things that had the same factor. It’s more that the Net chooses what to get behind.

Matt says that we should feel a duty to link to stuff that’s cool and that may have taken a lot of work.

Chris: Keep doing what you love.

Paul: That’s why I make videos.

Mike: Is this leading to fewer big projects being created?

Paul: It’s up to us now to produce our art.

Paul: YouTube is people’s memory and Facebook is their consciousness.

Now questions from the audience.

Q: Chris, was there a Pop Tarts lawsuite?
A: No. I’d love to work with them. Nyan flavored Pop Tarts with rainbow-colored filling.

Q: [Scumbag Steve!] Could you spare $20?

Q: What was it like to negotiate with Microsoft, Double RainbowGuy?
A: I never put ads on the Rainbow video. YouTube asked me to, and I said no, it’s a sacred video. I got an agent who negotiated the contract. The offer came from an intern. It was not big money like you think. I could have bought a used car.

Q: Is there something else you’ve created that you think is more worthy than what went viral?
A: Paul: I made a rainbow video — Giant Intense Video — a year earlier and thought it’d go viral. On that one, I am high. I wasn’t on double Rainbow.
Matt: I was working on a comic. I worked really hard on it. It had a narrative. And then a 12-min drawing goes viral.

[ I’m leaving 5 mins early. Posting without re-reading.]

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[roflcon] Syrian memes

I’ve come in late to Ethan Zuckerman’s panel on worldwide memes. I heard the fabulous Brazilian discussion from my spot in the back of the room. Now I have seat and anasqtiesh, a Syrian blogger, is talking about the importance o memes in Syria’s repressive environment.

For example, as soon as Assad used germs as a metaphor for rebels, graphics were posted using germs to make political points. When a government minister said that Europe doesn’t matter, people posted maps without Europe. Likewise with a statement that enabled a duck pun. Assad became “The Duckfather,” etc. Lots of graphics portraying Assad et al. as Chinese to draw the connection about repressive regimes. The debate among Secularists and Islamists is also reflected in memes (including rage face).

Ethan ends it by calling for a Scumbag Assad meme.

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June 7, 2008

DRM Zuneral: The video

Alex Leavitt recorded the DRM zuneral on May 25, at which our old friend, Digital R. Management, the progeny of CD Keys and Read Only Floppies, was given a burial at sea.

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June 1, 2008

New issue of JOHO … Now with added Ethanz!

I’ve just sent out a new issue of my newsletter, JOHO. (You can sign up to receive it via email, for free of course, here.)

How much do we have to care about? Even if the mainstream media’s coverage of most of the world didn’t suck, would we care? Are we capable of caring sufficiently? (Annotated by Ethan Zuckerman!)

The population of Nigeria roughly equals the population of Japan. Yet, the amount of space given to Nigeria by the US news media makes it about the size of Britney Spears’ left pinky toe. Why?

Serious researchers have been considering this question for generations. Do American newspaper editors skimp on Nigeria because they’re racists? Nah, at least not in the straightforward way. Is it because the readers don’t care about Nigeria? Somewhat. But how will we ever care if we never read anything about it? We seem to be stuck in vicious circle, or what’s worse,  a circle of not-caring…

Vint Cerf’s curiosity: If we are indeed getting more of a stomach for the complex, what role has our technology played?

Esquire magazine recently ran an interview with him that they busted up into a series of unrelated quotations. I was particularly struck by one little insight:

  “The closer you look at something, the more complex it seems to be.”

Because of Esquire’s disaggregation of the interview, we have to guess at Cerf’s tone of voice. My guess is that he said this with a sense of wonder and delight, not out of frustration. Of course, I may be reading Cerf’s mind inaccurately. But the plausibility of that reading is itself significant…

History’s wavefrontWhen we can record just about everything, history loses its past. And, no, I don’t know what I mean by that.

The Strand Bookstore in NYC has eighteen miles of books, which works out to about 2.5 million volumes. My excellent local library has 409,000. The Strand’s shelves press the shoppers together, giving a sense that the place is alive with the love of books. The library is quieter because emptier. Even so, the library has something the Strand does not: history.

We’ve assumed that knowledge was always there, just waiting to be known…

ROFLcon and Woodstock: Am I so enthusiastic about the ROFLcon conference because it was important or just because I’m out of touch?

I was at Woodstock. For two hours. I was supposed to meet a girl there. Hahaha. Instead, I wandered around, hoping someone would offer me something to smoke to get me through the Melanie performance. So, let me recap: I was at Woodstock, didn’t meetup with the girl I was infatuated with, didn’t get stoned, and heard Melanie. Also, it was raining. Still, I was at Woodstock, which used to give me street cred, but now just makes me obsolete.

But forget my experience and take Woodstock as a watershed event at which the young realized they were more a potential movement and not just a demographic slice. ROFLcon felt something like that…

Is the Web different? The definitive and final answer.

I taught a course this past semester for the first time in 22 years.  The course was called “The Web Difference,” which was apt since it was about whether the Web is actually much different from what came before it, with an emphasis on what that might mean for law and policy. 

During the final class session, I took a survey…

The Turing Tests: Throwback humor, in both senses.

The fool. I won’t spend the money yet, but it’s only a matter of time before Van Klammer will lose our bet. I don’t care about winning the $100, of course. I’ll use it to buy something I’ll use frequently, to remind me of my moral and intellectual victory. Perhaps a set of mugs inscribed with “Courtesy of Dr. Van Klammer…Loser!”…

Bogus Contest: Surely anagrams can’t be random!

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May 27, 2008

ROFLcon post-post-mortem

Christina Xu, one of the founders of ROFLcon, has posted her post-mortem of the event. In fact, she posted this to a mailing list we’re on. Here’s what I posted to that list in reply:

I was there. I thought it was, well, epic.

From the very first sentence of the conference — a call and response
from Leeroy — it was clear that the audience members knew the same
jokes and held the same values, and thus was something more than a
mere audience. The enthusiasm of the attendees was instant,
unbridled and sustained. Given that this was a celebration of a
culture constructed by its own audience, this was appropriate. It felt
more like a movement than a conference.

But, since I am just about three times older than the average
attendee, my reaction is tainted. Oh, sure, I enjoy a funny LOLcats
now and then, but Time magazine covered that meme a year ago. I had to
have a young friend explain the complex history of Anonymous, and the importance of
Leslie Hall only slowly sank in. As for Leeroy, well, I had to look
him up in Wikipedia to get the entire backstory. (This was far more a
WoW than Wikipedia crowd.) It was a revelation to me how far outside
the Net mainstream I’ve become.

So, it’s hard for me to judge how important ROFLcon was. It might have
been a watershed event in which the culture assembled itself into one
physical place long enough to sense its own heft. Woodstock, anyone?
Or it might have been
“merely” a place in which bonds formed and themes coalesced that will
affect the future. I do suspect that it was, in any event, more than
just a good time.

(I might add that, Christina’s modesty aside, the degree of looseness
the event achieved came as a result of especially meticulous,
transparent, organizing by Christina, Tim, and a large, loose cadre). [Tags: ]

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May 20, 2008

CBC documentary on ROFLcon

FYI, a CBC documentary on ROFLcon will air tomorrow at 11:30am as part of the Spark program, and again on Saturday. Eventually it will be available on the Spark site.

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