Pipeline is giving away two pairs of tickets to attend ROFLCON Summit on Saturday, October 1 at Wieden + Kennedy. To win, comment on this post why you’d like to attend. Winners will be drawn and emailed Friday, September 30.
Reminder: We give out 100s of $$$ in free tickets every week including to many of the top music and art venues in Portland. Join our email list if you like free stuff
By Nathalie Weinstein
If you enjoyed a funny cat picture while avoiding doing your actual job today, you have Ben Huh to thank. Since 2007, the CEO of Cheezburger Network has taken a website of funny cat pictures and turned it into a media empire with 12 different blogs, all receiving millions of hits per day.
But Huh is not content to dwell in the realm of adorable animals and internet memes. He’s also working on a new project to change the way our culture consumes news, The Moby Dick Project. Huh will be in Portland this Saturday for ROFLCon Summit at Wieden + Kennedy where he will speak on a panel titled ” New Memes On The Block.
PDX Pipeline had a chance to catch up with Huh about Portland, internet culture and why journalism students shouldn’t give up the dream.
PDX Pipeline: How has America's internet culture changed since you started I Can Haz Cheezburger in 2007? Do you feel your work played a role in those changes?
Ben Huh: When we started, I didn't know much about internet culture. It was eye opening to find out it was something different. I had to do a lot of historical digging to see what happens when a new medium (like the internet) comes on the scene and what it does to culture. We've done a good job of popularizing internet culture and bringing it into the mainstream. It's something where we showed up at the right time and place. We'll look back at 2007 and say that's when internet culture found its stride. We played a small but significant part in that.
PDX: What's going on with the Moby Dick project? Have you come any closer to a better solution for getting news out to a changing culture?
BH: We did a working session at Stanford a couple months ago. 80 peoope came and that made it hectic and crazy. We all agreed upon the problems with news curation and the consumption of news and talked about what ideas can fix those problems. I need people who can put resources together to pull off a service that can share these ideas with the world. We're beyond the idea phase and are looking for ways to bring it to life
PDX: Do you have any advice for younger people currently in journalism and new media programs for how to pursue a career in a rapidly changing climate?
BH: I understand the fears about the industry. People are looking at this world of news and information and thinking about the demand for quality information. The internet is no different. People will say that my company’s content is low quality content, but who are you to tell me what quality is? If you look at user generated content, people used to say its low quality. The times and people’s attention spans have changed so quality means something different and new, but its just as entertaining. That's true time and time again. Students should think about what they can do that will provide media consumers with something unique and interesting.
PDX: Is the market for cute animal blogs saturated at this point or is there room for more?
BH: I think you'll see more. Its hard to measure saturation in animal blogs. I hope the demand will continue grow.
PDX: What are your favorite things to do in Portland when you visit?
BH: We like the restaurant scene. It's less expensive (than Seattle) and the food is just as good. I really like to go to this tapas place in NE, Toro Bravo.
Saturday, October 1
8 a.m. - 5 p.m. | $35 | All Ages
@ Wieden + Kennedy, 224 NW 13th Avenue
ROFLCon Summit is a spin-off of the wildly awesome biennial ROFLCon. It'll bring together the leading generators, preservers and advancers of online culture so they can talk about where it's all headed and what it means to everyone else.
It's an open discussion about why the very same communities that are good at making dumb, funny things online are having a real impact on the world. Join us on October 1st, 2011 in Portland, Oregon for the first-ever ROFLCon Summit to address the incredible potential of the Internet, virality, the blogosphere, and beyond!
Panelists include Alexis Ohanian of Breadpig and Reddit, Ben Huh of the Cheezburger Network and Sherrod Degrippo of encyclopediadramatica and OhInternet, as well as representatives from organizations like BoingBoing, Internet Archive and Electronic Frontier Foundation.