SXSW 2023: Tech, Culture, and the Art of Storytelling

March 28, 2023

SXSW brings the global creative community together to set the tone for the year ahead. The festival, a convergence of tech, film, and music, invited an estimated 300K attendees to explore cultural trends through the streets of Austin, TX. Some of this year’s highlights revolved around AI, Immersive Experiences, Civic Engagement, recent tech industry disruptions and more. Here’s where TEAM geeked out most.

The Power of Fandom

Coined “revenge live experience,” there is an overwhelming urge for people to attend live experiences in a post-COVID era. Considered through the lens of fandom, there lies an opportunity to create true fan experiences and a sense of belonging. Marketers challenge themselves to create a “lean forward” vs. “lean back” digital experience – getting the fans as close to “live” as possible, without replacing the desire to be at the “real” experience.

Roku blended the two flawlessly with their popular Roku City , which transformed its screensaver into an immersive experience at SXSW. Having taken a life of its own, the Roku City screensaver is a relatively popular topic on Twitter and guests were invited to experience the whimsical city for themselves. They interacted in familiar spaces with characters that any true Roku City fan would appreciate.

Everyday AI

While a human wrote this article – it’d likely be crafted by AI within a few short years. As AI remains top-of-mind, it has disrupted almost every major industry and this new era of innovation will be felt across nearly every aspect of our daily lives. Sessions explored the impact of generative AI on the corporate world, ethical guardrails, leveraging AI to combat climate change, and the possibility of AI being sentient. What we know for sure is that AI is no longer an idea for the future, it’s already here.

Building a more equitable future

An underlying theme across various tracks and areas of interests was the desire to build a more equitable future. Whether through civic engagement, tech, immersive experiences, and even comedy – cultural leaders urged one another to move from good intent to intentional innovation. The Smithsonian and Wikipedia collaborated to dive into the importance of information access and open knowledge. Others, like comedians Sam Jay and Abbi Jacobson, used comedy as a catalyst for change as they discussed breaking up the “boys club.”

Street Smart

Outside of the hundreds of sessions, experiences and shows at SXSW, the streets were buzzing with today’s most intriguing cultural conversations. TEAM was on the scene – diving into the insights of marketing execs and leaders alike. Check out what SXSW speakers had to say when asked about the most important drivers of fandom here.

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