For the last 14 years, Heather Armstrong shared her life online with honesty and wit—work and marriage, raising two daughters, struggles with depression and parenthood—earning her a massive audience. But it took a uniquely modern emotional and physical toll, contributing to her decision to walk away from full-time blogging earlier this year
You might not know Alex Blumberg’s face, but you probably know his voice from This American Life, Planet Money, and as the host of the StartUp podcast, in which he documented the ups and downs of building Gimlet Media, his own startup focused on narrative podcasts, like the beloved Reply All and Mystery Show.
Starting with her own acclaimed webcomic Templar, Arizona, C. Spike Trotman is at the center of her own indie comics empire. After seven successful Kickstarter projects—including the Poorcraft guides to frugal living and the blockbuster Smut Peddler anthologies, which raised over $268,401 from 8,000 backers—Iron Circus Comics just published its first creator-owned comic.
20 years ago, two anonymous writers started posting a column online every weekday, a proto-blog that critically examined Internet culture and skewered the hype of the dot-com boom. Suck.com quickly became the touchstone for a generation of net writers and bloggers, paving the way for modern descendants like Gawker, The Awl, and Today In Tabs. The Sucksters come together at XOXO, appearing on stage for the first time ever.
Mallory Ortberg is co-founder of The Toast, a brilliantly irreverent blog focused on feminism and humor, majority female-owned and profitable since its third month. Her series on texts with famous literary characters spawned last year’s Texts from Jane Eyre, her New York Times best-selling debut.
Since 1999, writer and technologist Anil Dash has published more than a million words on his blog. His latest project is Makerbase, a user-editable database of projects and the people behind them, like an IMDb for people who make stuff online, created with co-founder and XOXO alumni Gina Trapani.
Zoe Quinn is a Harley-riding cyborg badass. Undeterred by a year of vicious harassment, she continued to spread the gospel of indie games with learning resources like Sorting Hat and Games Are For Everyone, and launched Crash Override, a volunteer-run task force for victims and targets of online mob hatred.
Eric Meyer’s worked with the web since 1993, an internationally recognized expert on HTML, CSS, and web standards. Last year, after the tragic death of his daughter, he raised difficult questions about how we design for crisis and compassion, the risk of algorithmic cruelty, and how we can do better.
Lisa Hanawalt’s uniquely funny and bizarre webcomics led to her current role as designer and co-producer of BoJack Horseman, Netflix’s series set in a world where humans and anthropomorphic animals co-exist. She also co-hosts Baby Geniuses, a podcast with comedian Emily Heller that has nothing to do with the movie of the same name.
Nicky Case uses code to visualize and explain the world, from matrices and raycasting, to the social forces that shape segregation in our society. Last year’s Coming Out Simulator 2014 was an interactive fiction game acclaimed for retelling Nicky’s traumatic experience of coming out to less-than-supportive parents.
"Indie.vc"? Even the name sounds like a contradiction. VC is useful for starting businesses, but too often means sacrificing control to someone founders barely know who will push them towards an exit. OATV’s Bryce Roberts wondered if another model was possible, helping to fund long-term, sustainable independent businesses without selling out.
Last month, Brooklyn-based comedian Akilah Hughes blew past 100,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel, building a following with a combination of humor and social commentary, whether it’s explaining intersectional feminism with pizza or the early symptoms of RDFS: Racial Discussion Fatigue Syndrome.
Rami Ismail is the developer and “business guy” at Vlambeer, the Dutch indie game studio responsible for games like Super Crate Box, Nuclear Throne, and Ridiculous Fishing. On the side, he builds tools like presskit() and distribute() to help indies do what they’re often worst at: explain what they do and promote their work.
Veronica Belmont is the prolific host, podcaster, and writer behind the Patreon-funded Sword & Laser, a sci-fi and fantasy podcast and book club; Vaginal Fantasy, a romance book show with Felicia Day, Bonnie Burton, and Kiala Kazebee; and most recently, Dear Veronica, an advice show for the modern era.