I've been at ROFLCon 2008 at MIT yesterday and today. The conference has drawn 700 participants, most of them young enough to qualify as digital natives. The main topic was Internet Fame and appropriately enough the keynote speaker was David Weinberger who has extensively analyzed the phenomenon. He observed how fame was no longer in scarce supply and thus Andy Warhol's statement that "in the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes" to "everyone will be famous to 15 people."
The speakers were a comprehensive collection of people who have achieved fame or notoriety on or because of the Internet, including
- Kyle Macdonald, One Red Paperclip
- Joe Mathelete, Marmaduke Explained
- Ian Spector, The original Chuck Norris Facts
- Alex Tew, The Million Dollar Homepage
- Ben Huh (âCheezâ), I Can Has Cheezburger
- Stephen Granades, LOLTrek
- Dino Ignacio, Bert Is Evil
- Leslie Hall, Gem Sweater
- Justine Ezarik, iJustine
- Ji Lee, Bubble Project
- Jay Maynard, the Tron Guy
- Matt Harding, Where The Hell Is Matt?
- Rooster Teeth, Red vs. Blue
- Brad Neely, Superdeluxe.com
- The Brothers Chaps, Homestar Runner
- Rob, Kris, Matt, Dave, Cyanide and Happiness
- Christian Lander, Stuff White People Like
Most of these people did not set out to be famous, but did something personal that was just quirky enough to spread virally. Once they achieved a certain fame, most of them were pursued by professional advertising and marketing people who wanted to figure out how to replicate their success, but most were at a loss for how someone could bottle it and sell it. A few had made some real money - most had not "quit their day jobs" but they all seemed to enjoy what they were doing although there was a pervasive fear that it might be taken away at any time - not because of a collapse of a bubble but from a collapse of network neutrality.
Some photos here.