XOXO was fantastic again this year. Since it wrapped up a week ago, there have been a number of fantastic posts from the likes of Frank Chimero, Maciej Ceglowski, and Kelly Kend; you should go read them. I was particularly moved by the unabashed vulnerability and honesty of the speakers, and their willingness to recruit the audience to confront the debilitating effects of impostor syndrome. I expect to write more about the festival in the future. Or maybe I’ll just create something awesome in the coming year, instead.
One thing struck me after the first day of talks that I’ve not noticed addressed elsewhere. While women were under-represented in the audience (though far better than at most tech conferences), but they were pretty well-represented among the speakers. And the women speakers — oh man. They. Kicked. Ass.
Erika Moen openly shared her quest for sexual identity via comics. Vi Hart hilariously described how to make money on YouTube — and Andy told her she could keep going for as long as she wanted. Molly Crabapple raised important yet seldom discussed issues around the independence of artists and the availability of capital on the internet. Julie Uhrman humbly shared all the ways in which Ouya has failed, and in doing so making it better. And Christina Xu discussed [BreadPig]’s objective to enable artists to make a living online without exploitation.
These amazing people weren’t at XOXO because they’re women; they weren’t there to represent women as a separate entity, or to talk about the under-representation of women in tech. No, they were there because they’ve created incredible things and wanted to share. Their energy was palpable. They just came out on stage and totally fucking rocked it.
This is how it ought be. You make something. You’re excited about it. Your energy infects the audience. And your gender and ethnicity have nothing to do with it. It’s moving simply to be amazing.
Alas, XOXO is the outlier here. But it points to the future, and I’m excited to help push it forward.