The Fantastic Scope, Diversity, and Atmosphere of NXNEi 2012

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I first stepped into the Hyatt Regency hotel.

The visual difference between people in slim-fitted suits and youngsters in plaid shirts made for an unusual sight. As I proceeded up the escalator, I noticed the media room. Popping my head in, I asked if this was where I got my media pass. “Nope, it’s in the ballroom down the hall,” smiled one PR rep amidst the gales of laughter. (Turns out this redirection would happen once every five minutes, hence the laughter.) This was my first impression of NXNEi.

NXNEi’s scope of coverage ranged from entrepreneurship to digital marketing to the dissection punk music, and panels and speakers streamed in from a wide ravine of disciplines. Subject matter experts included the culinary artist group known as Epic Meal Time, lifestyle personality Casie Stewart, TAXI advertising executive Dave Watson, and entrepreneur and appmaker Ken Seto (you probably know him from Endloop and Massive Damage).

This wide selection of disciplines accurately reflected the very diverse backgrounds of attendees as well. All sorts of artists attended NXNEi, from film directors to musicians to managers to visual artists (as well as a ton of very unique personalities, and weird writers like yours truly); there was a buffet of information for everyone’s palette. I had the pleasure of sampling quite a few of these dishes.

I was particularly pleased with my choice to sit in on the punk panel, hosted by Damien Abraham and Sam Sutherland. For those of you who know me, you probably didn’t know I liked punk music. That’s because I don’t. (Actually, I started tuning into the Ramones just before this panel.)

It’s absolutely fascinating how these musical movements start off (punk in heavy industrial areas like Hamilton), and this panel really explored the growth of punk. The comparison was made about how hip-hop is currently in the phase punk was a few decades ago.

The extent of these two panelists’ expertise was clear through quirky trivia (going so far as to point out Viletones lead singer Steven Leckie was actually featured beside Christian Bale at the beginning of this clip of American Psycho—warning: extremely violent threat) and a potentially endless stream of pretty good music.

There was also Jason Theodor’s presentation about the improving creations. He sprinkled around some higher-level concepts at the beginning, and then really dug deep into valuable tactics on how to get into more creative states, and which practices should be used in certain scenarios. You can find the slides he used here. (He’s also doing more in-depth workshops. No, sadly, not an affiliate link.)

I was also recommended Faris’ geo location presentation by a friend. Faris kicked off his presentation by comparing value with proximity, and how proximity influences us.

For example, you are more likely to be fat if you are in close proximity to a lot of overweight friends. And you are likely to feel the death of someone near you (physically or emotionally) a lot more powerfully than the death of a stranger from halfway across the world.

Faris then launched into a series of examples that used geo location to bring people closer together, like McDonald’s Pick N Play, the Airwalk Invisible Shoe Store, and geo-reminders that ping you when you’re close to a certain location.  

While NXNE was known primarily for its independent musicians and parties, I think NXNEi could start playing a much stronger role in the future. Its scope of coverage remains unrivaled and unmatched for now—especially as an event in Toronto—as does its laid back atmosphere, respectable pricing, and diverse crowd of attendees.

As the world starts revolving around collaboration and relationships between disciplines, an event like NXNEi will be an even more important sort of congregation amongst artists from different avenues.