Northern Voice 2009 Keynote Rob Cottingham

Comments 4 by Rebecca Bollwitt

“He might look like your average college professor but he’s f’ing insane – he’s the funniest guy I know,” notes Kris Krug as he introduces Rob Cottingham, today’s second keynote. Nancy White will also be doing a freeform graphical interpretation of Rob’s talk as we go along.

Rob Cottingham

He says his daughter told him to “Break a leg” this morning, “and can you tell her that Peter Mansbridge really should make way for some younger blood?”

“I would like to begin with a moment of silence for all the services that have died since the last Northern Voice: Pownce, SocialFM, Rogers Customer Service.”

“We’re going to try and make a little history this morning, I’m going to use a little tool made by our friends here in Vancouver, “HootSuite” — I’m going to strive to become the first stand up comic in history to heckle himself. And frankly I’m exactly the kind of jackass that I was afraid would show up.” He says we’re all welcome to join him on twitter using a special hashtag that is exactly 140 characters long.

Here’s here to talk about what makes social media funny. Starting with podcasting, how funny is podcasting? Rob then impersonates a podcaster’s opening remarks, which I wish I could get the audio for.

Up next, end-user license agreements, funny? “There’s a reason the button says ‘submit’.” Rob says, “The guy selling heroin at an elementary school would say, my that sounds a little one-sided.” “Take my rights, have my kidneys and give me my free Scrabble application!”

Beta testing – funny? The room is slightly indifferent but Rob thinks beta testing is funny. Rob is reading a beta testing agreement while Nancy is writing and drawing feverishly with felt markers on the board behind him.

Memes, funny or not funny? “I’m going to go with not funny.” On the screen Rob has the”Drive a 6″ stake through your hand meme” which ends with “tag six people you really don’t like.” He then calls up the “3 people you’ve cheated on your spouse with” meme” and the instructions are hilarious.

Photo credit: John Biehler on Flickr

Blogging, funny? “Blogging amazes me, how much of blogging is about blogging?” A lot. “Any communications channel opens up conversations about that communication,” ie. the Verizon “can you hear me now?”. The topic more interesting to people about blogging is monetizing blogging.

Business in the social web is funny to Rob. It’s all about “continuous arguable improvement”. It’s not the heart of social media. This “wasn’t dreamed up in anyone’s boardroom,” he adds, “this world of social media was invented and re-invented by us.”

With regards to social media or web 2.0 whatever you want to call it, “at the heart of this thing is creative self expression and the ability to connect.”

Rob mentions Andrew Keen’s book, The Cult of the Amateur, and how he thinks that’s the wrong idea. It’s about a supportive culture of friends both online and in the real world.

“By applause, LOLCats, funny? Or not funny?” Funny wins. Rob never was a big fan, but it’s the lesser of many evils. “Shared laughter is more than just a sound.”

“The social web is hilarious, and thank god.” He says, “if you’re already doing teh funny, keep it up.”

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4 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. Rob CottinghamSaturday, February 21st, 2009 — 12:00pm PST

    Fantastic stuff – you are the absolute reigning monarch of liveblogging, Rebecca!

  2. Full Circle Associates » Northern Voice Visual RecapThursday, February 26th, 2009 — 5:41am PST

    […] It was interesting to think about the process. Prior to the talk all I knew was the title and that it was mostly stream of consciousness stand up comedy with some “serious stuff at the end.” I got this information from 5 tweets from Rob, so you know the information was under 700 characters. I’m glad I just went with the flow. It was risky, but fun. I had thought about some sort of timeline image in advance, but that would not have worked. And because they ended up having me draw from the front of the room right behind Rob and under his slides, this felt a bit more like preformance art than just graphic recording.  (Some coverage of the keynote here, here and here.) […]

  3. DaleWednesday, March 4th, 2009 — 10:27pm PST

    A video of Rob’s talk can be viewed at

  4. Maya BrooksMonday, July 26th, 2010 — 9:58am PDT

    monetizing a website is really a great way to earn money in a passive way just like real estate.:’:

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