SXSW22: Innovation & Inspiration

SXSW22: Innovation & Inspiration


This year, two members of our Havas Lynx Group team went to Austin Texas, to attend South by Southwest (SXSW), an event that celebrates the convergence of tech, film, music, education, and culture, and allows those in creative industries to see cutting edge ideas and developments in multiple fields. Alessandro recaps on his time there.

The anticipation to attend South by Southwest began in 2019. Despite using this ample time to prepare myself on what to expect, the experience was so much more than what I imagined. To say it was overwhelming is an understatement. There was everything from futuristic exhibitions, keynote speakers, musicians such as Lizzo, and even Daniel Radcliffe and Sandra Bullock showed up for their premiere of The Lost City! And that’s not including Austin’s lively culture, street music/venues, and amazing food.

I didn’t waste any time and attended the first event on day 1. It was an event called Blockchain Creative labs. It covered what to expect in web3 and the transition of what it would look like from web2.0. This also covered NFT’s, and DAO’s.

Also on the first day, I attended an event called ‘No code no worries: The future of no code tech’. I wanted to attend this event mainly down to a project we are creating internally. It aims to allow non-coders to create projects that historically were code heavy and required a lot of dev involvement. Learnings from this and the concepts spoken about will help towards the development of this project in our team.

There were many sessions that I attended, too many to discuss individually however here are two of my favourite that stood out for me.

A session called ‘A new sharing world of metaverse & digital human’. It discussed that the metaverse is about connecting people and how your digital Avatar is as important as the real version of you. One key point was the power to control all aspects of yourself in the metaverse. One speaker mentioned that you don’t get to choose your ‘physical avatar’ such as your skin colour, gender etc. but in the metaverse, this ‘digital human’ concept allows full control. There were some aspects that I didn’t think about, such as the ethical side of things around the metaverse. The speaker said that just like the dark web exists, there will be a dark metaverse. Also, similar to being consumed by social media, the metaverse could be abused and become reality for some. He ended on a lighter note by saying he sees the future of the metaverse to be used, not to replace reality, but to connect people in the real world.

Virtual Reality was a huge part of SXSW22. There was a whole exhibition on VR with multiple experiences. One experience that stuck with me was called Goliath VR. It was a 25-minute experience that put you inside the head of a man called Jon. Jon is a patient who suffers from schizophrenia. He played a large role in developing this experience as a way to allow people to somewhat feel and understand schizophrenia in a way that cannot be done via traditional means of communicating. This was very interesting as people who suffer from schizophrenia interpret reality abnormally. VR in this scenario was the perfect tool as it can interfere with what you interpret as reality. It takes you through a journey of his life by telling a story. There were elements of gamification within VR which was interesting, mainly due to VR being synonymous with gaming whereas here, the experience was not a game, but carefully a choreographed use of it. Paired with the amazing digital art, it was a very immersive and educational experience. After the session, I spoke to one of the creators since I wanted to know more on this and what their aims were. Change informed by experience and driven by innovation is what we do at Havas Lynx Group. And in my opinion, if done correctly, VR is a front runner in enticing change via experience.

Something I found interesting was despite having a plan on what events to go to the day before, the day would never go as planned as I would naturally stumble across interesting events I didn’t plan to see. Each day would have a highlight that would be out done by the next day’s highlight. When I spoke to one of the organisers of an event, he asked me how I was finding SXSW and when I explained this scenario, his response was “it means you’re doing it right”. Each day would bring more interesting talks and experiences I would never expect. This I think best summarises my SXSW experience and is a testament to the Lone Star State: “Keeping it Weird in Austin” slogan.