Organized by a handful of Harvard undergrads, ROFLCon (Rolling On the Floor Laughing + Convention) took place in Boston last week on MIT’s campus. Its esteemed institutional pedigree belies what the conference was all about: stupid #$%@ on the internet.
It was a dissection of online phenomena, a look at the memetic web through an academic lens, a voyeuristic Q&A display of in-jokes and niche celebrities that brought little bits of digitized wonderful into existence. And it was awesome.
Attendees learned about Tron Guy’s life both inside and outside the anatomically accurate (he’s not wearing underwear) Bruce Boxleitner suit (aside: I’m no Manchurian Candidate so I mean it when I say Jay Maynard was one of the kindest, gentlest, most level-headed people I’ve ever met. Yes, he’s wearing a homemade costume based on the main character of a 1982 motion picture, but he knows he’s geek, owns it, and takes all the thousands of instances of ridicule in stride. But I digress…). How Matt Harding found viral fame from combining terrible dancing with interesting backdrops. Why the Brothers Chaps have an office in a suburban mall (it’s “inspiringly depressing”). When pictures of cats accompanied with bastardized English can be funny. And so on.
###There was a general nonchalance, a palpable casualness you don’t usually experience at conferences. All the speakers appeared unaffected by cewebrity status and surprised that a whimsical, “dumb idea” they “happened to put online” could receive so much attention.
That happy, this-is-pretty-sweet-that-this-conference-is-actually-going-on atmosphere was my favorite part. A close second was BBS archivist Jason Scott’s history lesson, explaining how having fun with new technology is nothing new.
Rocketboom has a synopsis: