Innovation, Creation, and a Chance for a Sustainable Future Are the Key Takeaways From SXSW 2022

From the adoption of new marketing and media concepts to the future of food, SXSW 2022 offered a glimpse into the future of society.

SXSW; Austin; Innovation
The Atmosphere at the Paramount Theatre // Credit: Michael Loccisano

SXSW is a meeting of the minds, culture, and exploration of alternative futures, like no other. An experience hosted in one of the fastest-growing innovation hubs in the world, Austin, SXSW is a must for anyone looking to tap into and shape the future.

Let's dive deeper into what was happening on the ground and explore some of the profound experiences found in Austin while listening and interacting with some of the greatest minds of innovation, companies, and research institutions leading the way.

The Future of Content Creation

As I have mentioned in my previous posts, Web3, blockchain, and NFTs were unequivocally the stars of the show and the main talking point I heard discussed by SXSW festival-goers. The conduit for such buzz, discussion of, and interaction with Web3, blockchain, and NFTs at SXSW was the work of the inaugural blockchain SXSW Sponsor, Blockchain Creative Labs, a Fox Entertainment Company, and their space hosted at Trinity Hall.

I was able to catch up with Shawn Ullman, Brand Partnerships and Artist Relations at Blockchain Creative Labs (BCL). He explained to me some things in the works for BCL and provided some insight into what things may look like down the road.

"We [BCL] partnered with the WWE, so we're getting ready to launch their NFT digital media blockchain assets, and so that's going to have a lot of digital goods as well as like you know, moments with Hulk Hogan slamming Andre the Giant and Stone Cold Steve Austin, and certain things like that," Ullman said. "We're also super excited about the USFL; we're bringing football [to Web3] in the spring. What we're trying to do with it, with the USFL, is we really want this to become one of the first leagues to be a Web3 league. So we're working with all the players and educating them on, you know, their likeness and how they are going to be able to create NFTs and will do it for them so that fans can purchase these [digital] goods and the money goes directly to them."

That's right, NFTs and Web3 are coming to football this spring with the USFL. This development and the work of BCL highlight the vast opportunities in Web3. The number of entities and sectors that can, will, and should leverage this technology is mind-boggling as we enter into this new phase of digital assets and economies.

Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavs, Shark Tank, and namesake of the Cost Plus Drug Company, echoed this sentiment throughout a panel titled "Predicting the Future of Entertainment." He said, "If you are a content creator and don't understand crypto [or blockchain]… you're f*$#ed." The same goes for marketing departments, advertising agencies, and artists.

The Trippy Future of Medicine and Treatment of Mental Health

On the flip side, I traveled down another rabbit hole with the psychedelic track at SXSW. The first such panel I attended was a "featured session" filled with powerhouse researchers and the only and only Tim Ferriss. The panel was titled "Psychedelics for Therapeutics and Well-being," moderated by Dr. John Krystal, the Chair of the Department of Psychology at Yale (among many other things), with panelists Dr. Roland Griffiths, the Director of the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Rosalind Watts, former Clinical Lead of the Psilocybin for Depression trial at Imperial College London, and Tim Ferriss, author of 5 #1 NYT/WSJ bestsellers, Investor (FB, Uber, Twitter, 50+ more), and host of The Time Ferris Show Podcast (700M+ downloads).

The panel, lasting an hour and a half, dove into the mind-bending future of treating depression and other mental health issues. To preface, what I think is astounding regarding this panel is the foundation of science in the advocacy and use of psychedelic medicine provided by well-established medical researchers and academics.

The central message from this panel was the positive results of ongoing clinical trials and the subsequent clear path of psilocybin and other psychedelics towards FDA approval.

Be on the lookout for more of my reflections on the panels under the psychedelics track at SXSW.

Initial Takeaway and Perspective on Attending SXSW

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been to many music festivals where I walked away inspired and with many positive takeaways. SXSW is all that and more.

SXSW is where the playing field levels between entry-level workers, mid-level directors, and executives. You never know who you are sitting next to and who you will strike up a conversation with about various subjects. Austin is a breeding ground for personal and professional growth, filled with life-altering experiences and narratives during the weeks of SXSW.


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Be on the lookout for more videos, writings, and podcast episodes covering the innovations displayed at SXSW 2022.