Imagine a situation where two kind and brilliant people named Andy stop everything they're doing in order to invite 400 friends and strangers over for a four-day party. Perhaps their goal is to celebrate and connect people working independently in arts and technology. Possibly they want to share their city of Portland with people who will probably like it very much. And maybe they decide that the party's theme should be (and I really need you to go along with me on this one): kisses and hugs.
Let's say the two Andy's rent a majestic, light-filled, old brick building in Portland, proceeding to correct small flaws like a dearth of toilet facilities and a paucity of air conditioning that might otherwise get in the way of a good time. They don't bother with security guards.
The Andy's prepare entertainment in the form of music, movies, games, an arcade, a market, and a pub crawl; they elicit two days worth of thought-provoking presentations by inspiring and successful people; they provide food and drink in abundance; and they even encourage others (Panic and Wieden+Kennedy and Ground Kontrol) to open their doors to keep the party going across the entire city.
Under these conditions it's not surprising that attendees would go out of their way to talk to each other, to embrace old friends and internet friends, and to greet new faces with enthusiasm. In such an environment it's not a shock that everyone there, a group of people sharing an unbridled passion for digital communication in all its forms, would set aside their electronic gadgets and mostly just be with each other.
Knowing all that, it's not hard to imagine. But ... here's the thing:
Before it actually happened, no one could have imagined XOXO.
Only they know for sure, but I'd wager not even the Andy's themselves guessed that the outcome of all their hard work would create an arts and tech love-in from which everyone came away feeling positive, inspired, glad, and grateful they could be a part of it.
So in that spirit I want to say thank you to everyone who made XOXO possible and to everyone who was there. I'll never forget the people I came with, the people I met, and the things I saw, heard, ate, and enjoyed. Hugs and kisses guys.
Oh, and in case we missed each other, here's my card.