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ROFLCon is a biennial Internet culture convention held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. The conference features panels with notable Internet celebrities, industry experts and academics. ROFL is an abbreviation for “rolling on the floor laughing.”
ROFLCon was created by a group of Harvard University students led by Tim Hwang in April of 2008. In an interview with Internet studies researcher Kate Raynes-Goldie, Hwang revealed that the conference was originally inspired by a xkcd web comic titled “Dream Girl,” which included a reference to the date September 23rd, 2007 and a series of coordinates to a park in Cambridge, Massachusetts. On September 23rd, hundreds of people showed up to the location, which motivated Hwang and others to start an Internet culture conference.
The first ROFLcon was held from April 25th to 26th in 2008 and featured various panel discussions with a number of web celebrities including Randall Munroe (xkcd), Jay Maynard (Tron Guy) and Ben Schulz (Leeroy Jenkins). At the end of the conference, a ROFLConcert was held with performances by Group X, Leslie Hall, Neil Cicierega (Lemon Demon), and Denny Blaze (Average Homeboy).
The second ROFLCon was held from May 4th to 5th, 2010 and featured notable figures from a variety of Internet memes, including David DeVore Jr. (David After Dentist), Aleksey Vayner (Impossible is Nothing), Charlie Schmidt and Brad O’Farrell (Keyboard Cat), The Gregory Brothers (Autotune the News), Mahir Cagri (I Kiss You!) and many other creators of single topic blogs. On May 19th, the technology blog Motherboard published a 20-minute documentary on the conference, including interviews with several of the guests.
The spin-off “ROFLCon Summit” conference was held on October 1st, 2011 in Portland, Oregon. Rather than focusing on Internet celebrities, this summit brought academics and industry leaders from various websites to discuss the future of the Internet.
On December 7th, 2007, an article titled “Famous Internet Memes to Gather at ROFLCon 2008” was published on the tech news site Wired, which revealed that Internet celebrities Leslie Hall, Randall Monroe from xkcd and Tron Guy had been confirmed as guests. On the first day of the event on April 25th, 2008, another Wired article was published titled “ROFLCon: Welcome to the Fame Revolution,” remarking that Internet stars were changing the definition of “celebrity.” On April 27th, an article titled “Meme Genies and a Meeting of Minds” was published in The Guardian, which included an interview with Where the Hell is Matt creator Matt Harding. The following day, NPR released an interview with reporter Ian Chillag, who described seeing Internet meme cosplay and web celebrities signing autographs as “surreal.” On May 1st, an article on CNN titled “The new fame: Internet celebrity”, claimed that the most successful meme was LOLcats. On July 16th, 2010, The New York Times covered the second ROFLCon conference in an article titled “When Funny Goes Viral”, which included statements from 4chan founder moot, Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh and Know Your Meme co-founder Kenyatta Cheese.