xoxo fest (link) is a conference for people who work and live online. a handful of people i follow on twitter went in 2018, which sparked my interest in going this year. i am very excited to be surrounded by artists and web developers that generally inspire me.
i often try to think about how we can use computers for good, as in creating positive change for individuals and communities. we know the risks (as showed to us in fictions like “black mirror”) but now we are trying to prevent a dystopian future by creating an open, accessible, and inclusive internet.
for me, i want to know what the future of work looks like. i am sick of 9-5, i am sick of navigating a broken healthcare system, and i am sick of the gaps in public knowledge when it comes to technology and its capabilities. my attendance at xoxo is a step towards a future that i would like to live in, under the banner of tabletop games, youtube videos, and coffee.
a portion of my tech-savvy friends give talks. software developers get together for show-and-tell sessions that serve as networking and hiring opportunities (the events that i have attended have been very casual). some friends give their talks at conferences (e.g. deconstruct conf), and others at meetups (like donut.js). one of the best talks i’ve seen was one in which the speaker showed us how they used code to create the most dissonant music possible. they were followed by a woman (a banker by day) who used code to sort through produce plu codes.
so talks are happening and they’re useful and cool – i wanted to get in on the hype. so i put together my presentation using what i had learned from interviewing folks on ‘the orbit’. i asked my contact at impact hub if they could fit me into the calendar, and they said yes. easy peasy.
the hard part was making / rehearsing the presentation. i really had no idea who would show up, which meant that i didn’t know if my talk about seem stupid or inaccessible. i figured it would be best to not overthink it, and just focus on the things i liked and thought were useful.
i outlined the presentation in notion several times, then put together a google slides document. i went through three drafts before i settled on the one i was going to give. i practiced out loud in front of my girlfriend, and then video’d myself and sent it to lito who has a lot of experience with giving talks. both of them gave me meaningful and constructive feedback, which helped me further tune in the talk.
eight people showed up (less than i expected but still good). this meant that i could get to know my audience deeply and learn about their businesses and what they were hoping to get out of my presentation. my favorite bit was hearing about their projects. i find that many folks are embarking on really interesting, individual projects and i am always happy to see ways i can help (usually it is recommending a tool or a book).
if i were to do this again, i would really want to lean into the data more. i want to show hard and true facts that will illustrate my point: the future of work is coming, and its for everyone. if we figure out how to adjust to sustainable work structures, we’ll be well positioned to have meaningful careers that are fueled by our individual interests, passions, and talents.
this past week i interviewed sahil lavingia, the ceo of gumroad (an online selling platform). he told me that he believed the future of work was going to be decentralized, software-enabled, and small. you don’t even have to predict the future on this one, he told me. it’s already starting and you can see evidence of it around us.
my whole mission is to assist with the transition from the “old trappings” of 9-5. one friend i spoke with said that it was almost like i was a doula for the future, which i don’t think is too far off as a metaphor. what i appreciate about sahil is that he welcomes the future of work with open arms, and encourages others on twitter to try and fail and try and fail again and again, because together we are proceeding into uncharted territory.
this week, i’m excited to speak to an audience of my peers about some of the things i am working on. i am afraid that some people may not understand where i am coming from, or not recognize the importance of adjusting to the impending changes to the structure of our workdays. the talk is fun, informative, but i think it scratches the topmost layer of what i am thinking most weeks. i hope it goes well, and at the very least i am pleased that it is happening.
i’ve been promoting the hell out of this thing (it’s this week on july 31st in seattle, washington, link here) but worry not if you can’t make it – at least two people will be filming it and we’ll push it to youtube as soon as possible.
here is the aforementioned vloggo, in which i discuss two books that i recommend most often, ‘whiplash’ by joi ito & jeff howe, and ‘the circle’ by dave eggers.
in other news, i just bought the book ‘the knowledge economy’ by roberto mangabeira unger, which came up on joi ito’s summer reading list. it’s a very… crunchy book, and aligns with a lot of my studies of the future of work.
anyway, i’m a bit shy about this new video because it is my foray into the world of video essays. i am inspired by the big players that have changed my life with their content, and sometimes releasing mine own thing make me feel small and feeble. but, the plan is to snowball some momentum and to keep these coming, similar to how i’ve been doing the interviews.
we are living in a world of accelerating change. technology, careers, and strategies become obsolete at an alarming rate. if you want to be marketable, you have to be creative. the jobs of the future don’t exist yet, and its up to you to figure out what these jobs are.
this week i interviewed moji, a woman who created her own title as a environmental sustainability consultant. she told me that a lot of her job was education – she had to explain to clients what she did and why it was important. it’s an emerging field and more and more companies will experience pressure to become environmentally conscious, and moji saw that she could help.
for you, i’m sure you’ve noticed gaps in the market. if you see an opportunity to try something that might benefit a friend, a business, or a community, it’s possible you might be inventing a career for yourself. test it out, and see if you’re right.
we all know 9-5 does not make sense, and my question is where we are headed next. what’s wild about companies like lyft is that it operates on its own schedule. artists, filmmakers, web developers, and more have the opportunity to work on their own schedules and don’t have to be tied down to a specific place or schedule. not only is this exciting, but it also is collectively powerful since it gives our workforce considerable agility.
as i interview young people who make a living online, it becomes clear to me that there are common challenges: time management, motivation, marketing, health care, etc. while an employer usually took care of some of the more managerial tasks for us, we now are burdened to make these structures for ourselves. my job, at least for the time being, is to help my peers figure out how to be their own boss.