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XOXO Talk Notes

Last week I had the honor of presenting at XOXO, a wonderful conference organized up in Portland by Andy Baio and Andy McMillan. I've posted a text version of my talk here.

I had mixed feelings about speaking. The two Andys are wonderful people, and they had assembled a stellar list of attendees.

But that list made me a little uneasy. XOXO was an event full of establishment figures (myself included) preaching an alternative gospel. This led to some strangely dissonant moments, like an online billionaire exhorting us to build a better web, which he had presumably forgotten to do earlier. The audience was similarly packed with fossils from the the early Yahoo, antedeluvian Odeo, and pre-Cambrian blog eras.

There needs to be a web equivalent to the Salon des Refusés, where young punk kids with no money can come, make everything we've ever done look lame, and then roast us in our own food trucks.

XOXO has the right spirit for that, but the wrong butts in the seats. If it happens next year, maybe the selection rule can change to help the audience match the message.

I realize I risk sounding ungrateful saying so. But part of the strength of this conference, and why I hope it continues in future years, is the organizers' unusual willingness to listen, and their sincere committment to making the event wonderful. It can be thankless work organizing an event of this size, but I sure do hope they keep it going.

—maciej on September 27, 2013

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