January 24th: I heard from my underground source about an internet convention – a nerd-fest, if you will.  I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.  Perhaps lots of ghostly pale people in flannel, binary and coding jokes, or Second Life couples awkwardly meeting for the first time?  I got over this irrational fear and made my way to the ROLFThing convention, held at Santos Party House.

When I first arrived to the scene, I came into the middle of Jim Louderback‘s discussion on “The Future of Online Video.”  As the CEO of Revision3, Louderback is clearly knowledgeable about the evolution of online videos, whereas my knowledge is limited to what my friends send me on youtube.  Not only did the major TV networks catch on to the online video phenomenon by allowing their television series to be accessible online (and also bootleg version on sites like hulu.com), but now apparently there are webisodes that can only be followed online.  Who knew?

The advantage of online versus TV is that you can watch them essentially “on demand” whenever you like and bypass the commercials, thus cheating the effectiveness of big corporations’s advertisements (Hah! Take that, capitalism).  A few points to ponder is the trade-off between quality and less commercials.  The big networks have bigger budgets for production funded by those money-hungry advertisers and therefore can produce higher quality videos, whereas most online productions are done with a hand-held camcorder by stoned teenagers.

In addition, people tend to have ADHD when it comes to focusing on watching things, so online video producers are struggling to find the magical length of time for a webisode that can be meaningful and yet hold our attention.  Personally, I wouldn’t give up my flatscreen HDTV for non-mainstream low budget webcasts (I have DVR, duh), but I can see the appeal of wanting to take control over your source of entertainment.

The second discussion I attended was by Vincent Connare, the inventor of the Comic Sans font with a masters in tech design and now working for the fonts and logo design firm Dalton Maag.  Connare worked for Microsoft from 1993 to 1999 and was asked to create a font for a kid’s application they were developing.  He referenced the comic book Watchmen for inspiration.  The round, curvy letters give an appearance of being warm, inviting, and kid-friendly.  When asked what the point of the font was, he said, “It’s not serious typography.  That’s the point.”

The way Connare tells it, he said that someone from the marketing team must have liked the font and lumped it in with the other fonts for the first version of Windows.  From there, the popularity of the font was exponential; even over time it has been overused and misused so much that it has lead to hatred for the font, and there’s even a group on flickr.com devoted to showcase the misuse of it.  An audience member asked what can be done about educating the population about using proper fonts, to which he said, “You can’t regulate bad taste.”

There were other speakers that I didn’t get a chance to hear (along with the afterparty at Moomia, see coverage via GoaG), so take a look at what happened and be sure to check it out next time which is tentatively set for sometime this fall.  See the New York Times review for additional coverage.


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Discussion with Jim Louderback

This was the only really weird guy