Northern Voice 2009: Teh Funny

No, that’s not a typo! Rob Cottingham (@RobCottingham) was the second keynote speaker today, and he led us on “a lightning tour through both the intentionally and accidentally hilarious sides of social media.” I couldn’t really blog this keynote – it’s one of those things you needed to experience. I laughed a lot, as did everyone else in the room.

Rob CottinghamNorthern Voice 2009

Which are funny?

  • Podcasting – Really funny.
  • End-User License Agreements – Yes, funny!
  • Beta – Not funny. Maybe kinda funny.
  • Memes – No, not funny.
  • Blogging – Funny!
  • Business – Rob thinks it’s hilarious, the audience isn’t so sure.
  • LOLcats – Audience is 50/50, Rob says it’s a matter of taste.

Some of the non-funny things Rob said:

  • At the heart of social media is creative self-expression and the need to connect.
  • The first Northern Voice was a techier crowd than it is today.
  • Teh funny is a big part of the way we connect on the social web. Shared laughter is something primal.
  • If you’re already doing teh funny, please, keep it up!

Two other interesting things about Rob’s keynote – first he attempted to become the first comic in history to heckle himself. He setup some scheduled tweets using HootSuite, very funny. Second, Nancy White drew an “illustrative interpretation” of Rob’s talk on the board behind him. It actually turned out quite well!

Fantastic keynote. I hope someone has some video to share!

The Large Hadron Collider

At 4:28am EST today, scientists at CERN successfully turned on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and most powerful particle collider. After nearly 15 years of work and roughly $8 billion USD of investment, I’m sure everyone involved in the project breathed huge sighs of relief when it didn’t explode this morning.

Eventually, the collider is expected to accelerate protons to energies of seven trillion electron volts and then smash them together, recreating conditions in the primordial fireball only a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. Scientists hope the machine will be a sort of Hubble Space Telescope of inner space, allowing them to detect new subatomic particles and forces of nature.

The LHC has received lots of negative publicity (but publicity nonetheless) in recent months, as some individuals feared that the collider could create a black hole that would swallow the Earth in an instant. Scientists from around the world unanimously declared that such a notion was complete nonsense. But the naysayers persisted.

Fortunately, naysayers inspire comedy on the Internet!

Here are a few funny LHC-related things I came across today:

Also funny looking though it isn’t meant to be, is the official LHC website. I didn’t know 1994 was back in style!

I think the LHC is pretty exciting (apparently Google does too, as they devoted a Doodle to it). I hope it enables all of the discoveries that scientists think it might. To learn more, check out the Wikipedia article.

xkcd in the New York Times

As a kid I loved Calvin & Hobbes, but that was about the only comic strip I ever read. I think I have all the books except maybe one or two. I still don’t read comic strips, but I do occasionally enjoy reading xkcd, a “webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.” It was profiled in the New York Times yesterday:

The site, which began publishing regularly in January 2006, has 500,000 unique visitors a day, he said, and 80 million page views a month. (Why “xkcd”? “It’s just a word with no phonetic pronunciation,” his Web site,, answers.)

Here is one of my favorites:

Facebook defines relationships.

A new comic is posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

The author, Randall Munroe, is only 23 years old! He’s one smart cookie. He also writes a fairly interesting blog. I think this entry from November 2007 is my favorite:

I was thinking of getting a couch or something for my room, somewhere for guests to lounge around.

Fuck new couches. I now have a ball pit in my room.

That’s right, he has a ball pit in his room (click through for photos). Freaking awesome! And in February, he quintupled the size of it.

My congratulations to Randall on the coverage! Definitely check out xkcd if you’re looking for something fun and interesting.