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Snively '11

May 2, 2008

ROFLCON!

Posted in: Life & Culture

(Apologies for not posting lately, life has been spitting in my face.)

I’m mildly obsessed with the internet. Actually, mildly is putting it mildly. I’m overwhelmingly obsessed with the internet. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that for almost my entire life I’ve had to deal with dial-up internet. That’s the issue with living in the country, slow internet. Things changed when I got to MIT. Instead of being plugged into the wall in order to get slow internet, all I have to do is turn on my computer in order to get blazing fast internet. As such I was very rapidly acquainted with such gems as Homestar Runner, XKCD, Leeroy Jenkins, and Fark. The Internet became my playground, providing me with an endless array of useless time wasting goodies.

On February 28th I got an e-mail inviting me to something called ROFLCON. ROFLCON? What's a ROFLCON? I read on:

A conference/convention about internet culture. Come celebrate and mingle with your favorite internet memes and engage in academic discussion about the past and future of internet culture. We'll have academic panels, artist workshops, unmoderated talks, a Concert of the Internet (ft. Group X, Lemon Demon, Trocadero, OCRemix, and Leslie and the LY's), and a huge party with all your favorite internet celebs rocking out.

Starring:
*The Brothers Chaps, creators of Homestar Runner
*Randall Munroe, creator of XKCD
*Ryan North, creator of Dinosaur Comics
(a lot of other comic artists. A LOT.)
*Drew Curtis, founder of Fark.com
*moot from 4chan
*LEEEEEEEEEEEEEEROOOOOOOOOOOOOOYYYYYYYY
*I Can Has Cheezburger
*MC Frontalot
*Rooster Teeth, the creators of Red vs. Blue

Oh. My. God. The internet is coming! To Boston! Like, like 10 minutes from where I live! Let's just say that I was officially registered within 3 minutes of reading that e-mail. Who was obnoxious for the next month waiting for ROFLCON? I was!

"Hey guys, did you hear, the guy who invented the lolcat is coming!"
"Yes, we heard Snively"
"Did you hear that Leeroy Jenkins is going to be there!?"
"Yes, Snively, we know"
"But, but so are the Brothers Chaps!"
"WE KNOW!"

My month of waiting finally ended last Friday. I woke up for physics and then after emerging from an hour's worth of pure science mind-bogglingness in some random MIT basement I headed to the Student Center for what was going to be the beginning to the two best days of my life.

Even registration at something like ROFLCON is amazing. I walked up to the registration desk, edging past dozens of people who could be internet celebrities, the beauty of it all being that even if they were famous on the internet, I wouldn't recognize them at all in person. I grabbed my badge, bought a t-shirt and lunch box (that's right, we got thermos brand lunch boxes, what now!?) and started grabbing free goodies. This is when I saw my first internet celebrity. I would have felt bad if I hadn't seen him, he was kind of hard to miss.

Working his way through the crowd was Tron Guy in full costume. He stopped nearby me and started chatting with a bunch of us. We asked the typical questions that he probably answers all the times, but the one thing we made sure to ask was why he wasn't lit up? I mean, half the reason his costume is so cool is because it lights up. This is when he started revealing hidden battery backs and switches all over the costume, lighting up the entire thing (including the Frisbee on his back). We were then faced with a full-blown Tron Guy. Photo Opp!

Unfortunately after registration I had to go take a math test. I should take this opportunity to say that my entire goal during ROFLCON was to find Leeroy Jenkins and meet him. The issue with doing that is Leeroy Jenkins is only a voice, I had no idea what he looked like. Well, during my math test they had the opening ceremonies and who was the MC? Leeroy Jenkins. Of course, why wouldn't they make me miss it? Now everybody had seen him and heard him do the yell, everybody but me. *shakes the hand of cruel irony*

After my math test and during lunch I glanced out the window and saw G4 interviewing some random guy.

Curious as to why this random guy was so special and deserved an interview I went outside to get a better view and perhaps overhear a part of the interview. All of a sudden this guy started dancing wildly, the reporter too! What's going on!?

I didn't figure it out by the time the interview was over and both had left so I just chalked it up to some weird random event and went on my way. After a presentation in another class I hustled to my first event of ROFLCON: "Before the LOL" with Jason Scott (creator of TextFiles)

I won't bore you with everything he said because most of it probably comes off much better in person than in type, but I will show you some pictures of slides.

I apologize to those who find this offensive, but seriously, funny

The emoticons that were around back in 1989

The guy who invented the smiley emoticon

My computer, watching the live stream and the real thing at the same time

Jason Scott finished his presentation and it was time for the next one: "Surviving Internet Fame with Tron Guy and Matt Harding"

Seated at the table were two guys, both of whom I recognized:

Hey! It's that weird dancing guy!

After realizing that this strange dancing character was somebody of note, I dug around on the internet and found this video:

Ah! So he wasn't just doing a weird dance, he was doing the "I go to a bunch of countries just to do this dance" dance.

Both the Tron Guy and Matt had a great panel, discussing just what it was like to all of a sudden show up on thousands of websites and be thrust into the limelight. At the end of it Tron Guy dazzled us with a light show.

Ooh! Shiny!

The next day I woke up bright and early for the first panel of the day, featuring some of the coolest internet people ever! Who was on the panel?

Rooster Teeth (Red vs. Blue), Brad Neely (Superdeluxe.com), The Brothers Chaps (Homestar Runner), Rob, Kris, Matt, Dave (Cyanide and Happiness)

From right: Brad Neely, Rooster Teeth, Rob, Kris, Matt, Brothers Chaps

SO MUCH INTERNET AT ONE TABLE! Their discussion was great, lots of talk about how they run their websites, how they got started, what the future holds, but through the whole thing I couldn't help myself from thinking "I need to get ALL of their signatures!" When the panel ended I ran up with my red lunch box and started collecting signatures. This is when I got my favorite picture of the entire weekend.

One of the Brothers Chaps, creators of Homestar Runner, signing my lunchbox with his Homestar Runner puppet talking into the microphone

The day continued with free pizza for lunch and a session that involved watching nothing but undiscovered YouTube videos (the list can be found here. That was AWESOME! The guys from JibJab were sitting right in front of me throughout, laughing just as hard as anybody else. They even premiered some brand new videos they made, not yet on the internet (so you don't get to see them yet, neener neener). I snagged more signatures for my lunch box before I headed out to the next panel which was being hosted by Anonymous.

Anonymous are the people in V masks that protest the Church of Scientology. I'm against the Church of Scientology as well, but Anonymous is a terrible organization that should just go away. Just trust me, don't think they're cool, they showed their true colors at ROFLCON and they aren't good people.

Moving on, the last big panel of the conference was one that featured moot (4chan), Randall Monroe (XKCD), and Ryan North (Dinosaur Comics). Since the anticipated audience was bigger than the lecture hall could hold, security made everybody come outside and then counted people as they filed single file into the lecture hall. Ben Peters and I, being the MIT students we are, realized there was a better solution than this: The secret ninja entrance. We escaped the crowd and went into the tunnels, winding around a maze of twisty little passages, all alike, before arriving at a door. This door just so happened to be the stage entrance to the lecture hall we needed into. We just walked through the door and sat down in the front row while throngs of people fought tooth and nail in line, probably willing to trample as many people as necessary to get the seats that Ben and I had just taken. MIT students FTW! What was our view of the panel like?

Front row center, w00t!

This panel was insane! Several things of note happened:

1) I saw Kyle MacDonald sitting in the audience.

2) The entire audience hissed at moot for starting 4chan (we then proceeded to be completely fascinated, completely forget our prior misgivings, and ask him all sorts of questions). Among them were "Do you take responsibility for the RickRoll?

"No."

"Do you take responsibility for lolCats?"

"No."

"Do you take responsibility for anything that comes from your website!?"

"Um. No."

3) The jerks at Anonymous decided to storm the stage with a stereo and interrupt the panel. They were met with booing and yelling. They refused to get off the stage, even when ROFLCON security tried to get them off.

Nobody likes you, go away!

Randall and moot eventually decided to express their opinion on the matter.

Note the XKCD stick figure with mask and moot writing "That sucked" in the speech bubble.

4) Randall looks over at moot and says "This may be completely out of line, but will you do a barrel roll?"

Don't get it? Here's the wikipedia excerpt:

[Do a Barrel Roll] often cited on websites such as 4chan, GameFAQs and YTMND. The meme generally involves offering the advice, "Do a barrel roll!" to anyone asking for any sort of advice. The term was commonly used by callers to Tom Green's online show to heckle him prior to the implementation of a call screener.

moot: "Sure!" *stands up, does a barrel roll, audience cheers wildly*

5) An audience member says to Randall Monroe "Randall, it's probably safe to say that this audience is obsessed with you so much so as to be willing to do anything for you. Is there anything you want us to do?"

Randall got this wonderful look of "That is so SAD!" on his face, but then realized he actually had to answer the question. He thought for a little bit, and then remarked "Well, I already used my barrel roll request, but I guess I could use it again. Do a Barrel Roll!"

The entire audience proceeded to set down their laptops, stand up, and do a barrel roll.

Look at how AWESOME we are!

Sadly, it all had to come to an end and we were soon made to leave. We all headed over to the Media Lab for a reception with free pizza. The issue? There was no pizza. Instead there was just a bag.

with stuff in it

Ben and I went to Dominoes instead, cashing in on the 5-5-5 deal. While there we went over all of the autographs on our lunch boxes. Here's my lunch box:

Front

Back

Sides

Bottom

Can you find all of the following signatures?

Jib Jab guys
The Brothers Chaps
Brad Neely
Dinosaur Comics guy
Leeroy Jenkins
Cyanide and Happiness writers
Tron Guy
LOLTrek creator
Red vs. Blue Creator
Guy who made the Chuck Norris joke famous
Randall Monroe (XKCD author)
Jason Scott
Drew Curtis

After Dominoes we decided we were done. ROFLCON was over and we had seen everybody we wanted. Well, almost. I never saw Leeroy Jenkins and Ben really wanted to meet Randall Monroe. We agreed that we'd walk back by the lecture hall where the last panel had taken place to see if either were around. We walked up and who did we see? LEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRROOOOOYYYYYYYYYY JENKINS! YES! Finally, it took two days but we got Leeroy alone. Photo Opp!

That guy in the middle? That's Leeroy Jenkins!

I got his signature on my lunch box (which you may have already seen because due to timeline and organizational issues I kind of had to blog it before I blogged the actual encounter) and then Ben and I went our separate ways.

Unfortunately we didn't see Randall Monroe there but on my way back to my dorm, walking down the Infinite, I saw Randall chatting with the Cyanide and Happiness guys, which is when I snagged my final signature of the conference. My lunch box was full, I was happy, and ROFLCON was over. Saturday? It was a good day.

(For more info on ROFLCON check out http://www.roflcon.org. They're thinking of making it annual!)

Comments (Closed after 30 days to reduce spam)

Sweet! I love the internet too! I wanted to be there, dang it! Must have been a sight to see. Also, I can't help it. FIRST!

Posted by: Anonymous on May 2, 2008

Oh I saw that Anonymous guy with the mask in the "last big panel of the day" picture. I saw him at CPW.

Posted by: Connie '12 on May 2, 2008

Wow.. .you got to meet Randall Monroe. That's awesome...

Posted by: Ashwath on May 2, 2008

Snively, it is utterly silly for you to feel you have to apologize for the opening slide of my talk. If anyone should apologize for an offensive slide, it's me, and I feel no need to apologize at all.

Posted by: Jason Scott on May 2, 2008

Oh my Lord. That is the hands down best entry on these blogs EVER. Your lunch box is now priceless.

=D

Posted by: Eric on May 2, 2008

jason scott signed your lunchbox AND your blog... :D

Posted by: karen on May 2, 2008

omg...If only it was during cpw!!!

Is it going to be in Cambridge again next year?!? It would be awesome to meet the Cyanide and Happiness guys and XKCD guy.

Posted by: Will on May 2, 2008

Wow, that looks AMAZING. They BETTER make it annaul. Anyway, I'm not sure you qute understand the nature of anonymous. It's a bunch of 15 year old kids who are using the computer in Mom's Basement. Things get taken too far, but that's a small, small fraction of everyone. And they usually look like dumbasses while doing it. 4chan is the scum of the Internet, but its existence is completely and totally necessary to balance out the entirety of the Internet.

Posted by: Will D '12 on May 2, 2008

PS: Whoever gets in a panel and goes up and represents "Anonymous" is, automatically, by definition, no longer part of Anon. So you can ignore them anyway smile

Posted by: Will D '12 on May 2, 2008

I totally sympathize with the dial-up internet thing - I had dial-up internet until I was 14. When we finally got broadband it was like seeing the light.

Now, I just need to get cable smile

Posted by: Karen '12 on May 2, 2008

I should probably also mention it's textfiles.com, not textfiles.net.

Posted by: Jason Scott on May 2, 2008

Yeah I had dial up up until i was 10. It sucked. Everything was so slow and I could never watch videos. It's funny now though because now I think DSL is slow and think websites take too long.

That Leeroy Jenkins video was hilarious! OMG. Thank you so much for introducing me to that. Funniest thing I've seen in a while. I hope this becomes annual. It'd be great to go next year.

Posted by: Omar '12 on May 2, 2008

@Jason
Sorry about that, all fixed

Posted by: Snively on May 2, 2008

I've always loved Homestar Runner. It has kept me amused ever since 8th grade.

Posted by: Judy '12 on May 2, 2008

OMG, LEGENDARY.

Posted by: Hawkins on May 2, 2008

You met Leeroy.
*mouth falls open*

Posted by: Anonymous on May 2, 2008

I am deeply disappointed in the lack of the backwards cap in all these photos.

Posted by: Timus on May 2, 2008

HEYYY I got the first post like hours ago!! And it disappeared. What happened?!?

Posted by: Anonymous on May 2, 2008

I've seen once where all the comments seemed to disappear on me, perhaps this is happening to you...

Posted by: Piper on May 2, 2008

@ Anon -

Perhaps it's a hint that you shouldn't "OMG FIRST POST!" wink

Posted by: Oasis '11 on May 3, 2008

As a certain Mr. Snively can attest (since I used the internet to pester him at an interwebs convention), I was one of the people who was not cool enough to be there (one year too early), but I was enough of a loser to watch several panels over the live feed ... It was really interesting, I hope it happens again.

As for Anonymous.. its literally impossible to generalize anything about it, because it doesn't exist and yet it does.. Anonymous is the savior of the internet.. it is also an internet hate machine. In general, I do not associate with Anonymous.. its a bad plan to do so. That said, Chanology is a good thing and there are members of Anonymous who aren't assholes.. the green guy seemed pretty chill for example. There are also lots of bad people .. they are in it for the lulz.

In conclusion, Anonymous is Legion. .. but ROFLcon was pretty awesome and I'm sad I missed it.

~Donald

Posted by: donaldGuy '12 on May 3, 2008

@Oasis

: )

Posted by: Snively on May 3, 2008

Do you think, at this rate, MIT will be named the capital of the Internet?

Posted by: Burst on May 3, 2008

@ Burst - From my stance, MIT pretty much OWNS the Net.

Snively, you should frame that lunch box ^__^

Posted by: Judy '12 on May 3, 2008

Oh WOAH... G4 was there?!!??! Why couldn't this have been during CPW!?!?!?

Posted by: Judy '12 on May 3, 2008

snively I'm posting from an iPhone (not mine=( ) You met the brothers chap? Jealousy!

Posted by: chris '12 on May 3, 2008

@Judy '12

Yea, I guess MIT has the largest percentage of ownage on the net... it's only because it exists in RL.

Posted by: Burst on May 3, 2008

So you're telling me that there's a guy out there who is basically famous for being rich enough to do nothing all the time but travel to basically every country in the world?

Sometimes the internet makes me really depressed...

Posted by: Laura on May 3, 2008

@Luara:

No, he is far from rich .. Stride gum payed for his whole trip for that video ... blame the corporations who are rich enough to pay a guy to do nothing but travel to basically every country in the world.. .the guy just fell into a pretty sweet gig

http://wherethehellismatt.com/about.shtml


There are much more depressing things on the internet

Posted by: donaldGuy '12 on May 3, 2008

Stride only payed for his *second* trip, though. His first trip was all his money =D

Posted by: Piper on May 4, 2008

Randall Munroe was in Boston and I didn't know about it? My contacts are failing me.

Posted by: Tom Brooks on May 4, 2008

I don't think that I would be able to handle so much interweb at one single event. :D

Seriously though... What did it feel like to be graced by the presence of the creator of XKCD?

As for Anonymous, I don't think it's safe to say that they are a "bunch of 15-year-olds sitting in their moms' basements". As Donald put it, their strength lies in their inability to be characterized and quantified. That same quality has been used as a war tactic for thousands of years.

Nevertheless, that must have been a mind-boggling fun event to attend.

Posted by: JWC '12 on May 4, 2008

@Tom Brooks
Randall actually lives in Boston, he comes over to MIT fairly frequently.

Posted by: Snively on May 4, 2008

You know what's worst then dial up ? Dial up and power cuts.

Posted by: Isshak on May 4, 2008

Pfft.. Stanford owns the Internet raspberry *hides*

Posted by: 0 on May 4, 2008

Glad you enjoyed the event! You MIT kids will be happy to hear that we tried to hold the event at Harvard (where almost all of the organizers go), but it was just not as conference-friendly as the Institvte.

If we do decide to do it next year, we'd love to have a few bright-eyed MIT froshies to help us...

(P.S. For the record, we left that door in 26-100 unguarded as a freebie for you MIT kids because we felt bad about invading your campus =P)

Posted by: Christina (Honorary '09) on May 5, 2008

btw... who is the guy who made Chuck Norris Jokes famous??

Posted by: Judy '12 on May 5, 2008

Judy'12 -- that's Ian Specter

Posted by: Dean Jansen on May 5, 2008

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