More Talk About ROFLculture, or Whatever It’s Called!

September 12, 2012 § 3 Comments

The conversation continues! In my most recent Modern Primate post, I discuss the weirdness (and truth, hence the weirdness) of the claim that meme culture is dying, or at least in the middle of massive transformation.

Full article, where I discuss the relationship between these changes and changes in the larger social web, here!

[and/or full text after the jump]

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Atlantic Article: How the Aurora Shootings Became Fodder for Lulz

July 28, 2012 § 1 Comment

Over at the Atlantic, the lovely Kate Miltner (here she is on ROFLcon III’s “Adventures in Aca-meme-ia” panel, alongside myself, Jordan Lefler and Patrick Davidson) has written a very thoughtful article about the more upsetting macros/memes to emerge from last week’s shootings in Aurora, CO. Speaking of recent memetic output on Memegenerator, Miltner writes:

Over the past week, the site’s usual jokes about video games, forum culture, and bodily functions became interspersed with a darker humor: images that poked fun at the Aurora massacre. This trend surfaced across several different memes (Success KidAaand It’s GoneY U NOCondescending Wonka), but the tone was the same: irreverent and insensitive, mocking the victims as well as the crime itself. In one Condescending Wonka macro, the anonymous author snarked, “You shot at 71 people and only killed 12? Glad I don’t have your gamertag.”

In the face of a senseless tragedy like Aurora, such seemingly contemptuous humor is hard to understand: How can people be so glib about something so terrible?

Though we may think of these memes as something birthed to us by the Internet, this genre of humor predates contemporary online culture and stretches back alongside the rise of media that expose us to tragedies to which we have no direct connection. According to folklorist Bill Ellis, “disaster humor” is an important part of a response to tragedy, particularly the type of tragedy that becomes a media spectacle. In the aftermath of the 1986 Challenger disaster, such humor was common, and often verged on brutal: One of the most popular jokes to emerge after that event was, “What was the last thing that went through Christa McAuliffe’s mind? The control panel.”

Miltner goes on to discuss the ways in which the internet –and its constituent culture– has affected the production and dissemination of disaster humor. About midway through, she considers the thorny relationship between trollish and more “legitimate” (for lack of a better term) forms of subversive engagement, and quotes me as saying that “while some of these images might be offensive or upsetting to some, they’re created to make a social or political point, and not necessarily to offend,” i.e. to “merely” troll (of course there’s no such thing as “merely” trolling, but that’s a conversation for another day).

Seriously, go read the article.

Also, as a point of possible trollish interest, via my best, brightest and most shadowy of all possible consultants: the above Wonka image can actually be traced back to trollish engagement with the Pike Rive Mine collapse in 2010, making that particular sentiment as old as RIP trolling itself (well, 2010-2011’s wave of Facebook memorial page trolling).

Adventures in Aca-Meme-ia ROFLcon III Panel

May 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Good times.


May 6, 2012 § Leave a comment


Good god, this weekend. I’m in the airport waiting to fly back to normalish, grasping for something to say about the last 48 hours. I suspect I’ll need a few days to digest. And by “digest,” I mean “revise my conclusion.” Well not really revise, more like augment. Lots of new evidence, both explicit (i.e. stuff people were actually arguing on panels and in the clogged hallways) and implicit (i.e. stuff people weren’t outright addressing but were enacting). Everything in my bag with a blank surface is now covered in notes, and I have a seventy-five page long rambling notes-to-self prose poem email containing gems like the following, taken from moot’s solo panel:

{leaving)we’re losing ……. the stories. being stripped of that richness.”
memes the instruments by which we would play music
fear we’re losing our song
so keep playing your music………
am i just an old young guy

the kids are finding new creepy things
“this is like a support group”
as an old guy, i’ve heard it all before
niche mainstream, old eople get mad, finds a way to break out and become niche again. we’re in that process, in the middle of that cycle.
the new thing will be here in a few years
On that note, more soon.

ROFLcontinued Part I

May 4, 2012 § Leave a comment


Livestream here.

Global Lulzes

Memes in China! Brazil! Syria! I can’t even type through these because I’m learning. An Xiao Mia. Political memes. “Street art of the social web.” Participatory culture leading very slowly to …. aw fuck this is too awesome. Grass Mud Horse. I can’t even. Bia Granja! Brazil! YouPIX, 6,000+ people. Shows a video of moot dancing. Yes, with the laughter. Explanation of media setup, relationship to meme generation. Social media was the key. Nipples boy. New Rule 34, it’s the video is viral there is funk of it. Motherfucker fucker, I’m awesome. Sou foda. Ah, THAT’S what he was dancing to. The importance of fun. Anas Qtiesh, Syria. Weird role of humor in political activism. Memes help break fear in governments. No revolution is complete without rage comics.


From Micro-Fame to Nano-Fame

UNITING HUMANITY UNDER THE RAINBOW, because we’re all different colors.

The guy who made Me Gusta is talking about a sort of dissociative relationship with his drawring. And says it belongs to the internet, not him, so is like, meh I wasn’t going to commoditize that shit. Isn’t mine anymore.

ROFLhighlights, as told through sentence fragments

May 4, 2012 § Leave a comment


I’ll be updating with UPDATES probably spread over a few posts per day. i.e. short posts will become longer posts, as things worth mentioning are mentioned.

Zittrain Keynote: ROFLpeople? This tribe. This phenomenon. What is it? Am I one? Maybe sort of. But when I was a kid, COMPUTERS. Other embarrassing things. Nerds and their connection to memes. That lone wolf, the out group, MEMES. They’re bad, and we’re good. Here’s to us being good. This zone as a space of retreat, separation. But with the shit we do, there’s real life. Relating to these things. Establishing connection to the world via memeshit. Thanks, Know Your Meme! FFFFFFUUUUUUU- shirts, Hot Topic. People don’t like it when you try too hard. Unstaged is what makes a meme. A wonderful moment. Authenticity, a real person implicated in the meme. Inadvertant success. Winning the internet lottery! This is good? Y/N. William Tecumseh Sherman! Respecting robots.txt. I prefer it not be accessible through search engines. Case studies: Star Wars Kid, Privileged Denying Dude. Bizarre laws of physics — when you volunteer yourself up, especially for profit or #winning, you fail. Tide goes in, tide goes out. You can’t explain that. Thanks to burgeoning political awareness, ok to make memes based on THE WORLD. You can explain that. There are other avenues for expression that have been made fluid by the phenomenon of the internet meme. “Can’t send attachments in outlook, bans the internet.” Wow this backdrop. Is that talking about HPV? Dead cells make no tumors. Cancerous mutations. But seriously, let’s talk about Anon’s support of Wikileaks. Are people doing this because they’re serious? Or clearly ironic. YES. LOIC. Charging lasers. Ghost Busters, serious but flipping people off as they did what they did. HBGary, Anon strikes back. DID YOU THINK THE BEES WOULD NOT DEFEND IT? I don’t even understand, but it’s funny. Memes extending out to realm of action. Performance art? Or real conflict. FUN TILL IT GOT SERIOUS. Downfall videos about Hitler, about memes? Um. Memes can be a powerful force, brings serious down to earth. As soon as it involves politics, an ethical dilemma, there’s an element of permanence…….harder to just have fun. I don’t know? The Menudo question, aging out. What will happen with the new class? Putting away childish things. Hmm. Irony? Counterculture, against the unfunny cynicism of our mainstream institutions. Reactionary. I love how Patrick Stewart is like, “What the Fuck?”

Well Then.

May 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

Choose your own ROFLcon

I’m sitting in a lecture hall at MIT waiting for Jonathan Zittrain’s keynote. The room is packed, I can hear echoes of that goddamn Rickroll kid out in the hallway (dude that wasn’t funny in 2010), and am trying to make sense of the ROFLteam’s goodbye announcement. This will probably be the most important thing that happens all weekend. More to come.

See post title.

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