The Hugs of XOXO

This year’s XOXO festival wrapped up on Sunday, and attendees are feeling it. Looking through my photos from the weekend (and a bunch from 2013), I found a theme. I hope you can spot it.

(Photos in reverse chronological order.)


The festival closed with the Andys, in a very hot building, sharing a hug.

Andys Baio and McMillan; dubbed by Erin McKean “an enthusiasm of Andys.”

I was powerfully affected by Paul Ford’s talk, which closed the festival. This is partly because I wasn’t entirely sure who Paul Ford was prior to his talk, although I was peripherally aware that Ford was both good at Medium and good at Twitter.

But the big thing about Ford’s talk (and his writing) is that he’s emotionally open about things that most of us don’t admit often, much less in front of an audience of hundreds. I have a problematic relationship with food and my brain and death; Ford does too; I know many of us do. I am glad that he chose to talk about these things. Now just look at this hug:

Andy Baio and Paul Ford, post-talk.

The hug above is after the talk. The hug below is before. What I didn’t know at the time was that this there were other hugs involved. I mean, just look at these hugs. These are the best hugs.

Andy Baio and Paul Ford, pre-talk.

Hank Green is a unicorn who can bend time with his mind. This will make slightly more sense once his talk video is posted, but in the meantime, I will admit that I told people as a kid that I wanted to be a “marine reef ecologist” because saying “oceanographer” was played out. (I think we both spent substantial childhood time in Florida, where such statements about future occupations were pretty typical.) Anyway, this hug:

Andy Baio and Hank Green.

Leigh Alexander is terrific at PowerPoint, despite suggesting otherwise. She also has a new book out, and you can get it in all the formats (even Word, which blows my mind in, I guess, a good way). This hug:

Andy Baio and Leigh Alexander.

And here’s the part where I admit my secret shame — that I have not yet listened to Welcome to Night Vale, because I’m a monster—but I have the first five episodes queued up. Mr. Fink, I promise that I won’t ask you what anyone’s apron looks like. That is for each of us to keep to ourselves. Now here’s that hug:

Andy Baio and Joseph Fink.

Justin Hall was brilliant. Again, here’s somebody whose work permeates the fabric of the universe but was not directly in my consciousness until Sunday. He’s also a hell of a dapper dresser. And hugger:

Andy Baio and Justin Hall.

John Roderick paced the stage, kicking chairs and asses, and admitted that he is most proud of his podcast. For the guy who wrote “It’ll Be a Breeze,” that’s saying a lot.

Andy McMillan and John Roderick. Not technically a hug, but worth including. (Roderick recently injured his right hand, and is having some fun with that.)


Guess what? I spotted some hugs last year too! The exuberance of Xeni Jardin here is contagious:

Andy Baio and Xeni Jardin.

And look at Cory Doctorow’s smooth hugging technique!

Any Baio and Cory Doctorow. (Right edge: David Pescovitz.)

And Mark Frauenfelder’s cool hair, sweater, and hug:

Andy Baio and Mark Frauenfelder. (Right edge: Glenn Fleishman.)

Thank you for enjoying these hugs with me. XOXO -Chris Higgins

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