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[roflcon] Microfame

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

Matt Oswald drew Me Gusta. He’s now an illustrator because of the drawing that made him famous.

Nate Stern is Huh Guy. He was in an AT&T commercial in which he said “Huh.” He submitted it to Reddit. The line in the script was “Say what now?” but they asked him to improvise. Nate says that he went up to Jonathan Zittrain who had put up a picture of the Huh guy during his excellent keynote, and said, “You’re much better looking than the Huh Guy.” JZ said thank you. “And that’s how micro famous I am. I wasn’t recognized by a guy who referenced me in his talk.”

Chris Torres is the Nyan Cat guy.

Paul Vasquez made the Double Rainbow video. “It was a spiritual experience. I need to bring spirituality to humanity.” He wants to “bring people together under the colors of the rainbow.”

Nate says that now you’re famous on the Internet for 1.5 seconds. Chris says that he is never recognized. No one ever knows the people behind the drawings. “Is that frustrating?” asks our host, Mike Rugnetta. “I love it,” Chris replies. He loves seeing the drawing reproduced. “It’s an amazing thing knowing that people love your work.”

Paul says that when Jimmy Kimmel played his video, it exploded. Microsoft wanted to do a video with him. “I’d been a hermit for a long time, and all of a sudden humanity was paying attention to me because I saw this rainbow. You’re not seeing me in it. You see it through my third eye, which is also my camera.” He says the camera didn’t capture the fact that the rainbow was a complete disk, a giant eye. What could have an eye that big? “God could.” A high school flew him out there, performed a play while he sat on a throne. They took him to a lake and he was wondering if he’s supposed to go swimming with high schoolers…and there was the rainbow again. “That’s why I video everything. Otherwise no one would believe it.”

Mike asks about the intersection of Net memes and mainstream media. Paul points to how much mainstream media coverage he’s gotten. “They’ve been kind to me, probably because I’m not in it.”

Chris says that Conan did a parody of it. Time featured it. “It’s mind blowing that mainstream media cover it.” He thinks the mainstrea generally does “get” it, although they’re wrong about other Net phenomena, such as Anonymous.

Nate says that people were suspicious that AT&T was orchestrating the meme. The Reddit upvotes barely beat out the downvotes. But he says that AT&T thinks that it’s popular because people like the commercial.

Matt: “My experience with Me Gusta and the media is zero.” It started on 4chan and became more popular on Reddit. He says he thinks of it as the Internet’s property now.

Nate: We try to figure out why some memes go viral, but there are always another 100 things that had the same factor. It’s more that the Net chooses what to get behind.

Matt says that we should feel a duty to link to stuff that’s cool and that may have taken a lot of work.

Chris: Keep doing what you love.

Paul: That’s why I make videos.

Mike: Is this leading to fewer big projects being created?

Paul: It’s up to us now to produce our art.

Paul: YouTube is people’s memory and Facebook is their consciousness.

Now questions from the audience.

Q: Chris, was there a Pop Tarts lawsuite?
A: No. I’d love to work with them. Nyan flavored Pop Tarts with rainbow-colored filling.

Q: [Scumbag Steve!] Could you spare $20?

Q: What was it like to negotiate with Microsoft, Double RainbowGuy?
A: I never put ads on the Rainbow video. YouTube asked me to, and I said no, it’s a sacred video. I got an agent who negotiated the contract. The offer came from an intern. It was not big money like you think. I could have bought a used car.

Q: Is there something else you’ve created that you think is more worthy than what went viral?
A: Paul: I made a rainbow video — Giant Intense Video — a year earlier and thought it’d go viral. On that one, I am high. I wasn’t on double Rainbow.
Matt: I was working on a comic. I worked really hard on it. It had a narrative. And then a 12-min drawing goes viral.

[ I'm leaving 5 mins early. Posting without re-reading.]

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By David Weinberger

David is the author of JOHO the blog (www.hyperorg.com/blogger). He is an independent marketing consultant and a frequent speaker at various conferences. "All I can promise is that I will be honest with you and never write something I don't believe in because someone is paying me as part of a relationship you don't know about. Put differently: All I'll hide are the irrelevancies."

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