How amazing is this?
It would be an easy argument to make that the fan conventions attract one of popular cultures most dedicated audiences. But a new kind of fan convention has gone ahead and created perhaps the most niche gathering of “fans” in history. The First Annual ROFLCon (from the messenger acronym ‘Rolling On the Floor Laughing’) was held last weekend in Cambridge, Massachusets and this net fiend for one, hopes it’s not also the last annual.
The event brought together an “A-List” unlike one ever seen before – an A-List for the internet culture – the cream of the crop of viral video, email and social network celebrities. From the Million Dollar Homepage guy (Alex Tew) to Tron Guy (pictured), to the folks from ICanHasCheezburger (previously blogged about in this space for their unique brand of niche awesomeness) to Ian Spector, the guy who came up with those amazing lists of Chuck Norris Facts, ROFLCon spared no expense to import the finest group of I’m going to coin “Celebrities 2.0” (seriously, did I just make that up???)
So why am I so excited about this?
Aside from, as the organizers claim, being “the most important gathering since the fall of the tower of Babel”, ROFLCon is a perfect example of what this blog is all about. Some intrepid individuals went out and created a uniquely targeted event that brought together fans of a very new kind of fame. A fame that was created through niche interests and passionate observers whose passion turned them into a new kind of fan. While ComicCons are a niche group of fans of a phenomenon propagated through more traditional media channels, these new celebrities were created entirely through their own ingenuity and the power of the people who found their stories compelling. This is an entirely new model of fame, a fame that we’ll see much more of in the future. And who better to describe it than the keynote speaker at ROFLCon, David Weinberger of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society:
There’s a long tail of fame, although I suspect the elbow isn’t quite as sharp as in the classic Shirky power law curve for links to blogs. At the top of the head of the curve, fame operates much as it does in the broadcast media, although frequently there’s some postmodern irony involved. In the long tail, though, you can be famous to a few people. Sure, much of it’s crap, but the point about an age of abundance is that we get an abundance of crap and of goodness. We get fame in every variety, including anonymous fame, fame that mimics broadcast fame, fame that mocks, fame that does both, fame for what is stupid, brilliant, nonce, eternal, clever, ignorant, blunt, nuanced, amateur, professional, mean, noble … just like us. It’s more of everything. But most of all, it’s ours.
So there you have it. ROFLCon, is one of society’s first real reflections of a new kind of fame and a new kind of fan. It’s a gathering of a pure kind of passion that points a beacon to the future of media, marketing, communications, celebrity, fandom and culture. And while reading all that may cause you to smile from ear to each or to get a little nauseous, the reality is, it’s ours.
And that’s kind of awesome… isn’t it?