XOXO 2013: Why This Fest is Different

This morning, organizers Andy Baio and Andy McMillan told us why XOXO is like no festival you've been to before

By Marty Patail September 20, 2013

This morning, organizers Andy Baio and Andy McMillan welcomed hundreds of eager attendees to the second edition of the 2013 XOXO tech fest. The weekend-long tech festival invites creatives and makers of all stripes from around the country (over 80% of attendees came from out-of-state this year, Baio said).

Over the course of the next three days, XOXO will host speakers, game nights, and musical performances, all centered around the theme of "independence." While that may sound vague, the term means something very specific to Baio and McMillan: independence is people making, marketing, and distributing things on their own—without going through "traditional" channels. 

Read more about XOXO's history and philosophy here.

And before handing over the microphone to keynote speaker Chris Anderson, Baio and McMillan told us a few things about why this festival was different from all others:

1. No panels.

In Baio's words: "Panels are the best way to make five interesting people boring." I couldn't agree more. 

2. No Q&A sessions

Again, as Baio put it, "The problem with question and answer periods is that they have a magical ability to isolate the guy that no one wants to hear from."

3. No convention center vibe

Location is everything: The conference is being held (primarily) at YU Contemporary Arts on SE 10th, a building with much more character and history (not to mention brewery choices) than the sterile convention center.

4. Curated guest/invitee list

Baio and McMillan took the rather unprecendented step of weeding out public relations and marketing people from the guest list by asking ticket-buyers to answer three questions: "What do you do?" "What are you working on?" and "What is something you've made that you're proud of?" The focus, Baio explained, should be on connecting makers with other makers, and not connecting makers with advertisers.

Stay tuned for more updates from the XOXO.

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