XOXO was my first conference. It was not at all what I expected. People kept telling me that it would spoil me for other ones. It wasn’t people looking for opportunities to find partners or business people scouring for opportunities. It was just a bunch of people that share a love of the Internet and that believe it is changing our real life, not just our life in front of the screen.
When I talk to my friends outside of the tech world I try to convey that what I love about the net today isn’t just the things I can do on my computer and phone but the ways it’s reaching out to change my every day life and make it better outside of that box. Strava, Geocaching, and Uber are a few of the examples I give. It’s hard to explain how getting or inputing a little info through that screen in your pocket can make the time you’re not looking at that screen richer but those examples can give a glimmer. But even with those examples it’s hard to explain the bigger picture of the possibilities I hope for. What an API is and why the trend to have open access to data from places like Yelp or Flickr might really change your life in a way that has nothing to do with screens or microchips is hard to explain. XOXO was being in a room with 400+ people that understand that and were inspired enough to want to be part of what’s next.
The idea of success that I imagined growing up was making a lot of money, having a big house, being rich. XOXO underscored over and over that there is technology available toady to all of us that lets us do what we love and cut out the middle man. We heard stories of people that did what they loved, put it on YouTube and Kickstarter and aren’t millionaires but connected with enough people that they can make a living doing what they love. It was a much more appetizing and attainable definition of success than the dream of being rich that we were all sold growing up.
Kickstarter, CASH Music, Lyft, iTunes, Google Play, Etsy. The world is cutting out the middle man. Creators don’t have to beat the big guys at their own game. We can go play in our own sandbox and consumers will be able to choose. XOXO made me believe in an economy where it’s normal for someone to make money doing what they love, not for $1,000,000,000,000 but for enough to enjoy their life and feed their family by connecting to enough people. More importantly it inspired me to be one of them.
Lastly, Portland was amazing! I felt at home, I fell in love with the city and I’m going back soon.