I just got back from another amazing weekend in Portland attending the second installment of the XOXO Festival put on by Andy MacMillan and Andy Baio. I referred to it in the title of this post for hopefully the obvious reason that very few sequels live up to the original. The Empire Strikes Back is one of those exceptions and XOXO 2013 was as good or better than the original last year.
At the opening night party, I saw Andy Baio and he welcomed me back (which was awesome) and it instantly reminded me of why XOXO is such a great conference while at the same time, is also the problem. Scalability. It’s small enough that one of the organizers can remember someone they haven’t seen in a year. I had wondered last time I wrote my wrapup post how the Andy’s would handle the increased interest in attending their event, thanks (hopefully) in part, due to people blogging about the amazing time they had in Portland last September.
Here’s some of the highlights of my experience (in no particular order):
Chris Anderson (former Editor of Wired) gave a DIY Drone demo across the street after his keynote talk about how drones are impacting agriculture (I had no idea):
Neo Lucida – getting to try out the cool, retro drawing tool that I helped fund on Kickstarter (delivery next month). I tried it and understood how to use is (to draw something in real life without being able to draw) in 30 seconds which was very impressive. It can also work with an iPad.
Getting awesome swag at the Panic open house:
Reconnecting with many friends and meeting so many more amazing people like:
Cory and Xeni from Boing Boing and talking about drones (thanks for the photo, Eddie!):
A bunch of Yes By Yes Yes folks attended as well so there were reunion hugs aplenty:
and I made some YxXO trinkets for those that attended both:
Funding a book of crowdsourced page content during the festival and getting it physically in my hand at the closing party from the founder of Kickstarter:
Getting to check out the Ouya game console enough to convince myself that I needed one:
This year I was actually less jazzed about the talks and more stoked for the social aspects of XOXO…I almost regretted getting a full conference badge instead of just for the festival portion (a $400 difference in cost) but I should have known that the Andy’s would have a stellar lineup of folks covering all kinds of inspiring things so I don’t regret getting to the venue on time both days.
At the closing party, I told Andy B. that I had an amazing time this year and would love to attend next year if they do another one…but also said, I’d understand if they didn’t. He replied that I was the first one to say that and thanked me. It’s hard to pull off an event like this and I can only imagine the pressure this year to deliver the goods (which they did). Going out on a high note after all isn’t a bad thing.
So, in keeping with my Star Wars theme, the Andy’s better have Ewoks if there is a third installment of XOXO next year.
More photos from Portland can be found in my Flickr set.