Friday, April 30, 2010

The importance of LOLing with, rather than LOLing at

We're at ROFLcon II and already loving it.

Just listened to the wonderful Ethan Zuckerman speak about the importance of sharing memes--and laughter--across geopolitical regions and borders. I wish everyone could here this presentation--it was fast-paced and covered such an enormous amount of terrain. Basically, the heart of his talk was: Weird can lead to Wide. that is, memes can help us to understand other countries more at the human level through shared jokes and "insider knowledge" (e.g., Chinese bloggers finding their way around the censors by developing shared language for talking about censorship that doesn't get censored).

Ethan has a long-held interest in how digital technologies are being taken up in ways that can potentially work in economically sustaining ways for people who are among the poorest in the world. He used the example of William Kamkwamba, who created a wind-powered power generator for his village (to seriously and grossly over-summarise the incredible feat that this was--the book about William's achievement and "Won't say no" attitude is a must read!). Ethan is interested interested in what happens when people like William have a chance to be brilliant in front of the whole world.

We're not going to do justice to Ethan's presentation, but here are some of the important things he covered:

For Ethan, viral ideas are pretty much the only thing that can save the world.

And what Ethan's Kenyan friends want more than anything else, is to have people pay attention to them via their Makmende meme. they want to draw attention to the fact that Kenya does>does have excellent graphic designers, excellent humourists, super savvy internet folk, and more. So head on over to and help spread the LOLs!

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