Visit to ROFLcon 2010

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About two months ago, even before I got invited to SXSW, Tim Huang wrote and invited me to speak at ROFLcon in Cambridge. I've long regretted missing the first ROFLcon, so I jumped at the chance & immediately said YES.

ROFLcon takes place on the campus of MIT, which makes sense, because that is where the internet is stored (during winter months).

The flights were long, probably the longest flight inside the continental US, but we got two movies and a "Science of Games" documentary hosted by Baratunde Thurston.

 

Niether Stacy nor I had ever been to Boston, so we were first struck by the winding tunnel system which the cab used to bring us to our hotel. It was like our own personal subway car!
We stayed at the Cambridge Marriot, just off the University campus. It was impressively posh. A nice surprise awaited us when we spotted the button array on the elevator, our room was on the top floor!

After some quick mooning at our floor-to-ceiling windows, we fell asleep.

Oh, one other great thing about the Marriot: The coffee maker in the room came supplied with a pair of paper "to go" cups with lids. Did they have any idea how much we would appreciate this addition to the room?

 

Christina and Tim planned a great way to get the visiting speakers started off on the right page. Christina would meet us as a group in the lobby and lead us over to the MIT New Media building to get registered.

In the lobby, a gang of anonymous / internet famous faces began at assemble, waiting for the arrival of Christina Xu, hostess to the horde of ROFLcon speakers. I recognized Joel Veitch from Rathergood.com.

http://www.rathergood.com/2010/05/07/974_roflcon

 

We were on the same presentation panel, so we immediately started comparing notes for our upcoming presentation. I knew him best for his jibjab songs and kooky animations which snowballed into a popular Quiznos ad campaign.

I also met Christoph from Cornify and Jason Steele from FilmCow (Charlie the Unicorn) and too many others to name, and when I say "too many to name" it means that I don't remember their names.

Pictured: Jason Steele on the left, Joel Veitch on the right.

The MIT media lab theatre is cleaner than a surgical theatre. I picked up my badge and convention booklet and milled around meeting people who I've previously only seen in jpegs.

 

On the way to the toilet, I ran into Keyboard Cat owner Charlie Schmidt pulling up short of walking on the frosted glass floor panels. They were translucent enough to trigger a panic stop.

More than one person paused to take photographs of the extraordinary stalls and urinals of the men's bathroom.

Before the opening keynote, there was time to play Chatroulette Bingo with Dr. Beth Coleman in a small lecture hall. It was terrific. This was my first, uh, exposure to chatroulette, and it was very fun. It was particularly fun to see the audience reaction to unexpected reproductive equipment blown up and projected onto the big screen, and to watch the chatroulette partner realize that they were chatting with an auditorium full of cheering people. Chatroulette bingo was played by pulling random cam partners and marking boxes according to what you see, such as "frowning", "smiling", "two girls" and "explicit".

 

The building started to clear out in preparation for the opening keynote, but I ran into Sir John Hargrave (zug.com) and Mo in the hallway.

 

John pointed out "Where the Hell is Matt" Matt Harding and "I kiss you" Mahir (http://www.istanbul.tc/mahir/mahir/). We snapped photos with them as quickly as possible. Very few people were instantly recognisable, but once a few people started to gather around someone, it was easy to overhear what they were famous for.

 

 

I quickly realized that I hadn't been spending nearly enough time on the internet.

 

After registering, I made my way back by the hotel to pick up Stacy. On the way I ran into some MIT students transporting their mirror-faced dish water-distillation project! John tried to impress upon them the significance of this chance encounter (due to my work with the Light Sharpener) but they just nodded at us like we were crazy people.

Which we are.

 

Cyclotron building.

 

Clover truck

 

Caught the keynote from Ethan Zuckerman (http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2010/05/03/roflcon-from-weird-to-wide/#comments) and Danah Boyd. http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/.

Ethan's enthousiasm for Africa rivals my own. He was eager to promote the African meme Makmende Amerudi. (I kept my thoughts about Nigerian Prince memes to myself) and assured us that global meme-spread was essential in assuring the cohesion, understanding and diplomacy across cultures.

 

Their late start pushed back the start time for our panel, which provided a nice window for me to feel nervous.

On stage, I finally met Neil in person and we took our places on the stage. Ethan cued up a short introductory video for each of us and we introduced ourselves.

Neil Cicierega is probably best known for his Potter Puppet Pals videos, but I only knew him from his Hyakugojyuuichi!! animation (http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/18702) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Cicierega)

 

The panel was pretty fun. Conferences are usually built on extracting a deeper meaning or significance from the work people have done, and this panel attempted to do that, but really none of us took our contributions to society very seriously.

 

Luckily, we three were each pretty funny, so I think we did a good job of entertaining the audience.

http://roflcon.org/2010/04/30/liveblog-the-longview-panel/#more-1225

 

Pictured (left to right): Joel Veitch, Neil Cicierega and myself, Rob Cockerham

 

Probably my favorite part of the whole trip came next, when a few people came down from the audience and introduced themselves as big fans. I posed for a few pictures next to my math lesson.

 

 

Got some sushi lunch & ate it in our room, missing the Race panel, featuring none other than Baratunde Thurston.
http://roflcon.org/2010/05/01/liveblog-i-can-haz-dream-race-and-the-internet/

 

After lunch we went downstairs to find John Hargrave (zug.com) and met David after Dentist (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txqiwrbYGrs) & his dad, David.

 

 


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