XOXO notes

Heather B. Armstrong:

The day that I realised that my child had been written into my contract, I had to walk away.

Alex Blumberg:

I didn't have any business experience before I got the job of CEO of my own company

my last for-profit job before becomeing CEO was bagging groceries at a thriftway

I did this show for This American Life called The Giant Pool of Money on the economic crisis

The same tools we are using to tell stories about heartbreak and love we can talk about exotic financial derivatives

Planet Money became very successful - and showed that we could apply these skills across a range of stories

I thought "this podcast thing could work" - I thought I learned I was good at business through the t-shirt project

we made almost $600,000 and sold 25,000 t-shirts, so I thought "damn am I hot shit" - we're making money

I love NPR and public media, but they're not the best business people in the world. I thought I could do better

I thought the Startup podcast was going to be a publicity stunt, but it ended up as a suprisingly emotional journey

I went to pitch @sacca, which is like just learning to paint and asking Jeff Koons for help

why don't we use a foreign name, and we ended up in Esperanto - with 'Orello' - it's Ear in Esperanto

the startup narrative often gets told in hindsight with all the bad bits cut out - I wanted to leave them in

when you are deciding how to share out ownership, you have to pretend you have a big valuable company when you don't

every time we put out an episode I thought people would turn on me and they'll realise that I'm an awful person

but every time we did share the pain other people told us "I went through that too!"

we ended up raising $1.5M in seed money and it wasonly after the podcast went up we sealed the deal

I thought I could go on my track record, but nobody got it. When I did it and it got attention it became an example

I was explaining how I was going to make a narrative with pathos, and then I did it

You are never going to able to explain the thing as well as you can by showing the thing

Our revenue in the 1st year was $2m thanks to insanely high ad rates, but after @dooce's talk we need another stream

a year into it I am seeing things happen that I had no idea would happen. @PJVogt and @Agoldmund came in early

they kept coming up with new credits for Matt "Matt Lieber is a window in room where you didn't think there was one"

[plays the beginning of https://gimletmedia.com/episode/36-todays-the-day/ ] which is a great 4th wall breaking episode

the reason we're all trying to start things is to make a place where things we hadn't imagined can grow

Andy Baio:

our next speaker is a force in Indie comics - C Spike Trotman

Iron Spike:

you heard about million dollar podcasts and million follower mommy blogs, it's time to think small again

like a lot people, I say "I don't know what I'm doing" when I'm asked what i do, and people agree with me

the 1990s were the high water mark for comics, but all but one distributor collapsed

there was a boom in independent comics - independent is anything that isn't a guy in spandex with visible muscles

but the one remaining distributor raised the minimum order size and wiped out all the indie comics

but then webcomics happened, and the bar to entry went from very hight to really low

when webcomics took off we were seen as line-jumpers, dilletantes, ushering in the death of the newspaper

it felt kind of like trench warfare with webcomics and traditional publishing in separate lines

and after years of trench warfare Kickstarter showed up and I thought "this is going to be amazing"

I did a book a book called "poorcraft" based on how to get by when you are poor, 'cos with webcomics I knew about it

people said "anyone who can raise $13,000 on kickstarter shouldn't be using kickstarter"

I called it Iron Circus Comics because I already owned the domain, and it was better than Invincible Dachshund

If you search for me on the internet you'll find my women's erotic comics anthology, Smut Peddler

I thought "I like porn, I don't like any of the porn being made. Oh, I should make some porn"

to be in Smut Peddler your comic needs to stress consent and mutual willingness. You'd think that was a low bar, but…

to be in Smut Peddler there needs to be a woman involved - the writer, the artist or the colourist

I got so much pushback on the woman thing, though I also got lots of creepy letters about the consent thing too

Wow, I sure do sell a whole lot of stuff nobody wants.

Kickstarter then had the 'message the author' button right next to the "report this" one, so I got some odd messages

This started a lot on kickstarter - this opened up the floodgates for support for other things

I'm really into artists getting paid. You'd think that would be obvious, but not so

I want to put things out there that I don't see - that I'm told people don't want.

A New World is about your adventure being someone else's disaster

there is a group that think their TV and comics and games ae under threat from people not like them

there have always been black people and brown people and women and queers and trans in comics, we've always been here

this is not a fight. It's over. We're here, we've always been here. if you have a problem with it I don't really care

Comics was comfortable. Superhero stories in comic book shops and movies about men in tights is not all there is

the goalposts for unprofessional keep moving all the time "that will never work" becomes "that doesn't count"

You can sit on reddit or tumblr and say that my comics don't count, but you are literally, verifiably wrong

Andy Baio:

[standing ovation for @Iron_Spike] - I love it when that happens

Suck started 20 years ago, I found it early on and read it every day. These 5 have never been on stage before

Suck definitely skewered the dot com bubble and the hype of the time. They influenced Gawker and The Awl and more

Ana Marie Cox:

"oh shit"

Joey Anuff:

This is the 1st time all 5 of us have been on stage together

all the questions that we are going to address today are not in panel format

Heather Havrilesky:

we're not a panel we're on the couch

Tim Cavanaugh:

and when you are on the couch it's therapy

Joey Anuff:

Heather asked "using the powers of your imagination, name one way that suck changed the world"

Heather Havrilesky:

it's hard to tell if you are part of the wave or you created the wave - when everyone else is doing the same thing

Tim Cavanaugh:

from day one what Joey and Carl did was use the link as way to make a rhetorical joke

Now I write for regular newspapers where you have to write Barack Obama, the presidnet of the united states

Ana Marie Cox:

Steven Johnson wrote an essay about how we used the link, he made a career out of explaining what otehr people do

Joey Anuff:

now we're in the TLDR era, before it was the RTFM era. Now if you say RTFM they say TLDR

Ana Marie Cox:

we put a lot of thought into what we were doing "this is supposed to be an inside joke, but everyone is in on it"

with the links, even though we were know-it-alls, you could follow them and know as much as we did

Joey Anuff:

our insight that was right on the money and it helped no-one was that we should publish every single day

Carl Steadman:

lets give credit to the beautiful backend that meant we could schedule posts months ahead, even though we never did

Joey Anuff:

I don't know if anyone remembers hotwired, but they didn't give a crap about design

everything we did was centered with a centre tag, and there are probably theses written on how this is no way to read

Heather Havrilesky:

is this a therapy session about how great we are? I never have therapy like this.

Joey Anuff:

Who was owen thomas really? Did we ever know him

Ana Marie Cox:

Owen Thomas could spell better than any of us. He was the copy editor and was hired after I was doing it.

Heather Havrilesky:

Owen would stand by our desks and talk to us and we looked oddly at this as we only used email and never spoke

Ana Marie Cox:

A gossip columnist should be hated

Heather Havrilesky:

I used to make cartoons that portrayed them all as a bag of dicks and they were gleeful about it - pure sociopaths

Ana Marie Cox:

the penetrating insight that Filler showed didn't match up with the dim person who sat next to me

Heather Havrilesky:

this is my dipshit facade, my curtain

Ana Marie Cox:

clickhole is the suck of today - I wish we had been as absurdist as they are now. we kept trying to make sense

Tim Cavanaugh:

at the time everyone was interested in web millionaires, and we were web thousandaires

Joey Anuff:

I hired Ana off a listserv where she would argue with Steve Albini and those guys

Ana Marie Cox:

I was in NY on $20k and you offered 2x the salary my dad said "2 men you've never met are flying you to SF to suck?"

Andy Baio:

Our next presenter is one of my favourite writers - a raw prolific talent with a surreal sense of humour

A huge hand for Mallory Ortberg

Mallory Ortberg:

don't be too hard on yourself if you are currently being too hard on yourself

death is coming for all of us. you can laugh about it but it will still happen to everyone in this room

The internet is where we all live. The toast is my internet, if you want one you can get your own.

so many sites say they want to pay writers eventually; we decided to do it from the start, so we keep doing it

It turns out there is a lot of space on the internet for people who make stupid jokes about art in the public domain

Andy Baio:

you have something you can buy things on in your pockets -buy @mallelis's book now

Anil's makerbase is IMDB for projects welcome @anildash

Anil Dash:

if you were a time traveller from 1999 you'd be excited by technology's progress - flooz=bitcoin; VRML=Oculus

Aaron Swartz is known as an activist and a campaigner but he also built lots of little tech projects that we still use

there is a great site called folklore.org which sets out the history of the mac at apple

we have to tell each other's stories - you don't have to use makerbase, write it on a cocktail napkin but tell it

Andy Baio:

I thought Anil always started talks with a Prince song and ended with a Michael Jackson one but this was the 1st time

the speakers we've had are absolutely stunning -give them a round of applause. I never see talks before they're given

I love how our speakers make themselves vulnerable and honest

our next speaker, I played her game Depression Quest and it was new and interesting

after a year of harrasment, undeterred, she kept making new things to bring people into games

gaming is the intersection of art and technology which requires great skill

a huge round of applause for Zoë Quinn


I'm going to give you a lot of data, but I'm going to talk about some dark stuff too

If you live and work on line , this is about the way the internet is going

as far as I know, Crash Override is the only organisation that works with harrased people to unfuck their lives

every account that I had ever had anywhere was inundated with harassment, then hacked for people to target

The crappiest Baldwin, the human personification of your crazy uncle's mailing list gave it the name GamerGate

One of the GamerGaters got picked up on terrorist charges earlier today - not against me

I'm a game developer, I'm a systems thinker so I can see the patterns in behaviour

In highschool I was the nerdy kid who wore a trenchcoat that someone had to ask out when he lost a bet

I was in such a hurry to tell people in highschool that I wasn't like other girls - I was a "cool girls"

I used the term "attention whore" like telegrams used the word "stop"

if gamergate had happened several years ago and to someone else, I'd have been on the other side

I would have been one of those useful idiots who mkaes up hate mobs

Can we stop using the word Trolling it's Abuse. Trolling is a thing you can do to a friend, and still be friends

we end up playing a game of Schrödingers Murderer every time - is some hot topic kid or Dylan Roof?

Most people participating in online harassment think they're the good guys

they all have a secret conspiracy theory that you are secretly rich so they can still be the underdog

There are a lot of things to be found in a mob, but justice isn't one of them

I talked to 300 former trollsand asked why they stopped, they said someone they looked up to said it wasn't cool

Another thing that got the trolls backing off is humanising the target, not making them a caricature

when my phone would ring, I'd answer it and they would say "Is this Zoë Quinn?" "yes" "oh. I'm sorry"

It's not really about the target, it's about belonging to the group that si attacking

If you look over to where the comments are on this video you'll see "she is evil! Boobs!" (I paraphrase)

More people would rather tell people that they had committed a misdemeanor than to mental health treatment

my biggest harassers use their real names and build a brand to raise money for attacking me

We need tech platforms to step up here, we should be ahead of this

don't get mad at the toddler who crashed your car, but the adult that gave them the keys

I've admitted to a lot today.You have a picture of me in fedora now, m'lady

consider if you are criticising someone's actions or shitting on someone as a person

No single snowflake feels responsible for the avalanche that crashes down on people

Don't be a snowflake in someone else's avalanche.

Andy Baio:

Our final speaker of the day is an internationally reknowned expert in CSS and web standards, Eric Meyer

Eric A. Meyer:

I think Andy and Andy deserve a round of applause right now for all their work

I started out on the web when it looked like this [screenshot of Mosaic browser]

this was the days of gopher, which was like a BBS on steroids

I wrote a tutorial on how to write HTML, and 4 million people learned from it, and I got no ad revenue for it

when CSS came out I made a support grid for the 2 browsers that implemented it, and were very different

back in the 1990s I started writing little notes on my homepage. We were bloggers once and young.

I used to write the HTMl by hand, but then I got smart and used custom XML and handmade XSLTscript

It was natural to me when my 5 year old daughter Rebecca was diagnosed with brain cancer, to write about it

I wanted anyone who came by later to understand what they weer going through

I kept up until I had to post her obituary 9 months later.

My web developer friends got a hashtag trending #663399Becca on the day of her funeral

There was a proposal to add a colour to CSS calling #663399 "Becca Purple" - I said use RebeccaPurple

there is now a memorial to my daughter in the CSS spec I work with all the time. I can't process this.

What pushed me to think about RebeccaPurple again was gamergate that blew up into many attacks on women

as a very part time gamer I felt like I was looking at this from the outside, and I stepped back to analyse it

I saw I was seeing something very similar to the #663399Becca campaign here

That same process was happening - a hashtag as a memetic hook as a way to organise a group to do something

we can look at this in terms of the bad input, but it not just that. It is also the medium this happens in

the medium is not neutral to it's uses - even a road is not neutral, as where it is built affects who uses it

roads are not free-for-alls - we set rules on how people use them and even license people to drive on them

I am not advocating licensing people to use the internet, tempting as that would be sometimes

what we do, what we value affects how the world works, how society changes over the next generations

what our children see online is what they will think is normal

software is eating the world, but we shape it. What we make easy shows what we value

to paraphrase Brillat-Saverin: show me what you build and I will show you what you are

League of Legends was known for having toxic communications - they tested the design to reduce this toxisicy

The game ECO is a planetary simulator where players battle pollution adn extinction by an asteroid

with our designs and with the things that we build there has not been much said about the values they encourage

if we build networks where it is easy to harass, that is how it becomes the expected norm

if networks make mounting those attacks more difficult, the ability to mute or block may be unnnecessary

as there is no truly meaningful distinction between online and offline, the online behaviour will determine the offline

we are building like crazy; we need to build wisely

I ask you to do this not in Rebecca's name, but in the name of her brother and sister who will have to live with it

Andy Baio:

the conference can get a little intense. Lets use the time between this talk and this evening to think about this.

sketches by Lucy Bellwood for medium