The XOXO conference of 2014 was literally life changing for me. It was my first visit to Portland and it was what convinced me to want to move here, which we've now done. Dan Benjamin of the 5by5 podcasting network interviewed a bunch of attendees (including me, randomly) and I joked to my wife about the interviews just being 50 people saying the conference was inspirational in different ways. That was no different this year, with the exception of this year being kind of the most inspirational bummer I've ever seen (in the best way). Rather than try to put the whole 3 day whirlwind into a narrative, I'm going to get on the journalistic bandwagon of recent years: the list.
Some things that happened to me at XOXO 2015
- I briefly met Merlin Mann, a personal hero. I didn't get to explain how important his work has been to me because I wanted to tell him his backpack was left alone after we vacated the table he left it near, but I was helpful so that's good.
- I didn't want to bug Kathy Sierra about how influential and important her work has been also but her talk was magnificent.
- I overheard a guy saying he was glad he didn't have much student loan debt, only $70,000. Wow.
- My kids talked to Phil Fish (creator of the incredibly popular and awesome game Fez) for like 10 minutes. I thought with all the crap he gets online that he might enjoy just talking to some kids who love his game and I was right. I'm thankful to him for talking to them like they were people, not dumb kids.
- I talked to a number of people about my side project, CastFu, and they were pretty excited about the idea of it. It's given me a renewed sense that this could be something that helps people.
- I got to show Andy Baio, a big Suck.com fan, and Carl Steadman, freaking co-creator of Suck, my ancient Suck.com membership card and foldout explainer thing I got a million years ago. Turns out the cards were Carl's idea and he was even the one who wrote the membership numbers on them. Turns out.
- Spent a bunch of time at the podcast meetup sitting with and talking to Jason Snell, of The Incomparable and other affiliated podcasts. He's a great guy and knows a lot about a lot of stuff. I learned a bunch.
- Also at the podcast meetup I talked to 2 great guys about Kickstarter, comedy, and geeking out about internet famous people. Good times.
- I met a ton of people on the XOXO Slack setup and thought that would mean I'd be able to talk to a bunch of people in person. For sure, I did talk to a lot of people but it was still really hard and I didn't do it as much as I should have.
- Last year I regretted not talking to Kevin Kelly, but my shyness got the better of me in that case. This year, a similar thing happened with Zoe Quinn. I couldn't figure out anything I would say that wasn't "I'm a big fan of your work and also how you have impossibly withstood this year-long monsoon of morons abusing you and wrecking your life for no reason" since I thought that would be too weird. Anyway, she's great and her talk was amazing.
- I got 2.7 billion points on Attack From Mars pinball at Ground Kontrol. You earn an extra game at 2.2B so I think that's pretty good. One of my faves.
- I'm so glad we get to expose our kids to such awesome and creative people. They were probably most excited to see the creators of Baman Piderman although we all laughed like mad people at Hello From The Magic Tavern, which we hadn't heard before.
- My wife and I met a number of people that our 10 year old son had befriended first without us, which was hilarious. He was also kind of the king of the Tinder Box indie arcade one night, including the awesome game Shitty Voltron (imagine a multiplayer QWOP). My wife and daughter also fell in love with 2 Rooms And A Boom, a fun group game.
- On the last night we had the kind of lucky experience that is kind of typical of XOXO. My wife had made a friend at a meetup and when we all started talking, we ended up being extremely similar and had a great time talking outside, which turned into dinner. It turns out her and her husband run a pretty well known internet service that we've used, and they have very similar thoughts about running their business and building cool stuff. It's hard for me to make new friends sometimes so when it happens randomly like this it's really great.
I'm sure I'll be writing more about XOXO later, after it all stews around in my head for a little while longer. If you want to read more specifics about what the speakers said there's a bunch of really good posts about that on Medium.