Keynote: Jonathan Zittrain (Berkman Center for Internet and Society)
Jonathan Zittrain is a phenomenon. Emerging from humble beginnings as a longtime Compuserve forum sysop, Jonathan is Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and co-founder of The Berkman Center for Internet and Society. He currently serves on the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and is the author of the brilliant innovation-theory-slash-techno-dystopian screed The Future of the Internet — and How To Stop It. So suffice it to say, he’s kind of an all-star internet smartypants.
Perhaps most importantly, he’s one of the most kickass and entertaining speakers that it has ever been the pleasure of the ROFLStaff to witness. So, kick back, relax, and let the man open up ROFLCon weekend for you.
Panelists: An Xiao Mina (Digital Artist), Bia Granja (youPIX), Anas Qtiesh (Global Voices), Ethan Zuckerman (mod – Center for Civic Media)
In his keynote at ROFLCon 2, Ethan Zuckerman reminded us that there’s a whole wide world of internets beyond our anglophone borders. Two years and countless news stories about “internet revolutions” later, we’ve brought Ethan back along with emissaries from the Chinese, Brazilian, and Syrian blogospheres to tell us more. Go forth, young n00b, and learn about the mythical creatures of Baidu, the Brazilian rule 34, and what role memes are playing in the Syrian revolution.
From Micro-Fame to Nano-Fame
Panelists: Nate Dern (Huh? Guy), Matt Oswald (Me Gusta), Chris Torres (Nyan Cat), Paul Vasquez (Double Rainbow), Mike Rugnetta (mod – MemeFactory)
We’ve talked about microfame before, but the time to complete internet domination is even shorter than before. Memes now come and go at the rate of several per day, and they’re also ever tinier and tinier splices of content: moving away from whole blogs to a few seconds of video here or a single image there.
What’s it like to be known for a few seconds or pixels of content? What made this possible? Has the internet really gotten so distractable? Come find out from our panel of nano-famous internet celebrities.
Life After The Meme
Panelists: Austin Hall (Daft Hands), Leeroy Jenkins (Leeroy Jenkins), Kyle McDonald (One Red Paperclip), Chuck Testa (Ojai Taxidermy), Christian Lander (mod – Stuff White People Like)
For all those who don’t find their way into the drug-filled corridors of mega-fame and mansion-owning fortune, internet celebrity ends up being just another chapter–albeit a chaotic and awesome one.
So, what do people get up to after their time in the internet spotlight is over? This panel brings together folks that have packed up their bags, moved on, or otherwise returned to life as usual after the meme. What we’re aiming to find is: what has returned to normal? Are they relieved? And, in what ways were their lives irreversibly changed?
The Distant Future, the Year 2000
Panelists: Eric Wu (Eric Conveys an Emotion), Zblofu (Zombocom), Jonti Picking (Weebl’s Stuff), Rob Beschizza (mod – BoingBoing)
Ah, the year 2000! The bad old days of dial-up, All Your Base, and sweet aniGIFs on Geocities. The biggest dance is the robot, and the robo-boogie.
This panel brings together some of the biggest celebrities who got their start in these formative early days of the open web. What are these folks up to nowadays? How has internet culture changed? Is it better? Different? How? And, most importantly – whatever happened to the Ate My Balls guy?
The Mysterious Mr. Hokum
Panelists: Jason Scott (Textfiles.com / Internet Archive)
A man is found dead in his luxury home, a beloved member of his community and a friend to many. In the process of handling his estate, his entire life story begins to fall apart. What gets laid bare is a double life, a fugitive who found shelter and rode the dot-boom to an epic win.
ROFLcon history mascot Jason Scott has spent over a decade on this yarn and will weave it for you over the course of an hour. Along the way, we’ll touch on computer history, the mechanics of grifting, and the way that, in the occasional rare case, you can truly get away with it.
Webcomics: The Long View
Panelists: R. Stevens (Diesel Sweeties), Sam Brown (Explodingdog)
Growing from the backwaters of nerdy scribblers uploading their doings onto the web, webcomics have grown into vast, mighty engines of culture online in the past decade plus. Whether it’s the firm geekery of xkcd or the more obscure dabblings of Achewood – webcomics have, more often than not, come to be the shared cultural anchor-points in the broader internet.
This panel brings together Rich Stevens and Sam Brown, who have been deep at the dark, beating heart of webcomics-land from the very beginning for a casual Q&A about the big picture of where things have been, where things are, and where they’re going.
Too Big To Know
Panelists: Brian Simpson (Reddit),Kevin Allocca (YouTube), Alan Schaaf (Imgur), David Weinberger (mod – Berkman Center for Internet and Society)
If you run a big enough platform on the internets–say, Youtube, Reddit, or imgur–you invariably reach a point at which your site becomes simply too big to know personally. Eventually, you have to rely on some creative data manipulation to read the bigger picture through the mess of information.
That’s where these brave souls come in; they’re the ones tasked with reading the Matrix. What kind of interesting stories have they seen through the data? Can they predict a community’s behavior? What are the limitations of data?
Gaming: WHY THE %&*# IS THIS SO %&#ING IMPOSSIBLE??
Panelists: Bennett Foddy (QWOP / GIRP), Michael “Kayin” O’Reilly (I Wanna Be The Guy), Jesper Juul (NYU Game Center), Jamin Warren (mod – Kill Screen)
We all know what it’s like to be deliciously close to victory, only to have it snatched out of our hands by that %&*#ing obstacle that has stopped you for the 30th time…tonight. So why do we keep playing games that torture us? And who are the %*(@&ers $&@*ed up enough to make these games?
The creators of some of the most brilliant yet frustrating games of all time are joining us for this panel to talk about the love/hate relationship you have with their games and why they chose to make it that way. Please don’t throw your controllers at them.
Performers: Mike Rugnetta (MemeFactory), Stephen Bruckert (MemeFactory), Patrick Davison (MemeFactory)
MemeFactory is three men with three projectors running three simultaneous powerpoint presentations. MemeFactory is a tightly rehearsed and choreographed show describing and celebrating internet culture.
MemeFactory causes information sickness.
MemeFactory is like that last Transformers movie times three but instead of robots our show is about the internet. If you want to know what it will feel like inside your head after the show is over, do a Youtube search for “star gate sequence.” Maybe we’re exaggerating.
Super Art Fight
Performers: Zach Weiner (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal), Caldwell Tanner (Loldwell), Ethan Nicolle (Axe Cop), Rob DenBleyker (Cyanide and Happiness), Ross Nover (mod – Super Art Fight)
Super Art Fight is run by a few friends of ours from around town – it’s the self-proclaimed “THE GREATEST LIVE ART COMPETITION IN THE KNOWN UNIVERSE”. Pairing cutting-edge artists in the art of creative combat before a blank wall of canvas, the audience is drawn in as a new masterpiece is created before their eyes. Is it just that simple? Of course not, that’s where the WHEEL OF DEATH come into play. The WHEEL OF DEATH gives the battling artists new topics at timed intervals that must be incorporated into their piece, less they face the audiences wrath. Add a punk rock sensibility and some of the most entertaining live commentary to hit the stage, Super Art Fight is taking the nation by storm, one event at a time.
Dare we say that the line-up this year looks fabulous, too – collecting some of the undisputed greats of the webcomic world. Watch out for unexpected body slams!
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