XOXO Fest recap
This is my first XOXO, and as with many festivals or conferences where I know I might be overwhelmed, I was a little apprehensive. It helped so much that we had Slack setup for XOXO months in advance. I met tons of rad people in and around the tech industry while I was online, and then when the XOXO started, I was prepared with a group of new and old friends.
The festival’s talks focussed on unlikely success, and sometimes success that required perseverance against odds or antagonism. From Spike’s talk about running a comic business when everyone told her that her background wasn’t good enough to do so, to Rami Ismail bemoaning the lack of time spent ensuring that the Arabic on buildings in games and media was accurate (after teaching us how to read Arabic in 10 minutes), we were taken on a journey of positive encouragement and shared joy. Other highlights were the You Look Nice Today podcast’s live recording, and the talks by Mallory Ortberg about death and running a successful website for queer librarians and female bodybuilders (I kid), and Amit Gupta’s talk about priorities and work.
The event was super well-planned and supported, and at any given time, there were a few activities possible, plus food and drinks. There were two longer daily breaks for dinner and lunch, and meeting and eating with new friends was strongly encouraged. The vetting process for attendees and the 1000 person limit ensured that almost anyone you chatted with was someone interesting. There were also many “lower-case f” famous people in attendance, such as John Gruber from Daring Fireball, Kathy Sierra, and Ashe Dryden.
The availability of tabletop games, as well as an Electric Objects art gallery, an arcade, and Instrument, and Panic’s parties kept folks moving through the city to great effect. I heard more than one person express newfound love for Portland, and my only hope is that they don’t move here and buy a house. (Confidential to some of you, please move here).
XOXO came off as a labor of love from the Andys, as well as a glorious way for those of us in tech, and adjacent, to learn new things about ourselves, and make positive connections to make the world just a little bit better. I feel incredibly lucky and happy to have attended, and I hope that next year I can return.