It was part celebration and exploration of intenet celebrity and part an excuse to let your geek out. Most of all, ROFLThing NYC 2009 was a fun way to spend a cold, wintery Saturday . When else are you going to have the faces of “You Suck at Photoshop”, Sockington, Improv Everywhere, the Tron Guy and a bunch of hackers all in one room? Oh, and the most maligned man in the typography industry — the creator of the Comic Sans font.
I had planned to write up a big review of the event with hReview and all that jazz, but that would have been far to serious for an event like this. Instead I’ve recapped some of the panels and gathered a whole bunch of links for you to to chase and waste time on this week at work.
You Suck At Photoshop!
Troy Hitch & Matt Bledso of the You Suck At Photoshop video tutorials came on first and talked a bit about the origin of the series and some of the funny things that happened along the way. They also shared some advice to those trying to get anything to go viral — let folks join in and speculate and play off that buzz just like they did with all the “who are these guys?” speculation and the rumors of Dane Cook being behind it. Then Matt was prompted by the audience to strip and it was all uphill from there. Oh, and then there was the audience participate and real time slide-sharing which I’ll elaborate on another time because it was a fun setup [just don’t invite the 4chan guys when you do it].
Next up was Jason Scott, multiple time internet celebrity. Another two parter introducing the celebrity twittering cat, Sockington, and then a broader talk about internet celebrity and catching hitting that wave of obscure popularity. When it comes down to it you just have to be really nerdy about some topic and maybe you’ll catch people’s eye. But as importantly, do it for yourself and because you’re driven to do it and not because you want to become a celebrity.
Firefox Art and other useless things
Now we’re getting into the geeky tech stuff after the crowd split sessions. By Greasmonkey hacking and full on extensions we were treated to a variety of ways people are using technology not not to make things more efficient, but to instead fuck things and [by some people’s definition] make art. Among the crowd favorites was the Timemachine extension that turns every website your visit into something that looks like it was built in the 90s, complete with animated backgrounds, repeating images, and amateur typography. The evilness goes way beyond what Comic Sans could ever accomplish.
Bre Pettis on Rapid Prototyping
On the surface this may look like the least web based or social topic of the day, but in many ways it wasn’t — and as a mechanical engineering school dropout way back when this was for me one of the most interesting sessions. Bre Pettis who’s face is recognizable by how to videos across the web and the History channel covered one of his current obsessions as a ‘digital designer’ — rapid prototyping physical objects via machines built from affordable [sometimes!] parts and plans that are shared online on sites like Thingiverse. He walked the crowd through a few types of machines — from various standard CNCs to computer controlled lasercutters, 3D printers, RepRap and other extruding machines.
For a few years I’ve been reading that these machines being on the horizon, even to the extent that are are some success stories with using rapid prototyping and similar manufacturing techniques in underdeveloped parts of the world. Now it looks like us common folk can finally start to get our hands on the tools.
Vincent Connare, Type Designer
YOU CAN BLAME HIM FOR THIS!
The night closed with a switch from famous internet personalities to one of the most infamous and hated tools of the computer hate — Comic Sans. He told the story of the origin of the font, and its It started as a project for use in a single software package at Microsoft and through forces beyond his control it was further distributed and bundled by MS later achieving world domination and making designers everywhere cringe. He clearly cringes at its variety of uses now, but was quite good natured about how it all turned out and has gathered a nice collection of signage and other usage from around the world.
Thanks to the organizers and speakers for a nice event. And thanks to the sponsors for the schwag! No, seriously, they gave away cans of Brawndo [But I was afraid to take it home and give it to my plants].