ROFLcon 2010 Podcast Vol. 1: Berkman Center's Ethan Zuckerman on International Meme Diplomacy

From this week's fishwrap, you can read Chris Faraone's report from ROFLCon 2010, which may be the closest thing IRL to synthesizing the sublime irreverence, shocking duplicity, crass exploitation, and utter brilliance of the internet. The smartest hour of ROFLCon came courtesy of the Berkman Center's ETHAN ZUCKERMAN, who argues that the future of the internet is pluralistic and global -- that developing countries are beginning to catch up to us in meme production, and that the internet, heralded as a tool to make the world smaller, is now splintering into a multiplicity of distinct internets. Rather than attempt to paraphrase his talk -- which encompasses Chinese homeless fashion icons, Indian Thriller knockoffs, and Brazil's answer to "Fail" -- we'll point you to his blog summarizing his talk, "From Weird To Wide," and then provide you with the full audio of his presentation below. 

In the second half of this ROFLCon keynote, Berkman fellow and Microsoft Social Media researcher DANAH BOYD -- ex-hacker, ex-raver -- attempts to frame a narrative about what's happening as internet culture, once the purview of "freaks, geeks, and queers," becomes infested with mainstream noobs. 

We do want to give a shout out to Kenya's first internet meme, who plays a central role in Zuckerman's talk: Makmende, a character who emerged from a music video (see above; Zuckerman describes him as a cross between John Shaft and Kanye West) and now regularly appears on everything from currency notes to fake movie posters. One measure of the power of internet memes is that the album which spawned the Makmende video -- 82, by Kenya's JUST A BAND -- is finally seeing an American release; it officially hit stores this past Tuesday. 

DOWNLOAD: Ethan Zuckerman, From Wide To Weird @ ROFLCon 2010 [mp3]
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