Tech has long been a fixture at SXSW, and this year, web3 — a vision for a decentralized internet built on blockchain technology — is taking over.
In October, it was announced that Blockchain Creative Labs, the NFT business and studio owned by Fox Entertainment, would be the festival’s first blockchain sponsor. The company will mint an SXSW NFT — or non-fungible token — and allow festivalgoers to tokenize their own work.
Michael Winkelmann, the digital artist known as Beeple who sold the most expensive NFT ever at a Christie’s auction last year for $69 million, will participate in a discussion scheduled for March 12. As a counterpoint, at a panel on March 13, the O.C. actor Ben McKenzie will offer his dissent on the whole crypto craze and, specifically, the role celebrities have been playing in recent months shilling for blockchain-based assets.
Also unavoidable at this year’s festival will be the other techno-utopian concept du jour: metaverse, a network of virtual worlds that can have wildly different definitions, depending on whom you ask. There will be sessions about what the metaverse means for the future of fashion, work and entertainment.
Beyond the buzzwords, gaming and podcasts will still have a presence in Austin. Tyler Blevins, the streamer known as Ninja, will participate in a session with his longtime manager and wife, Jessica Blevins, about the evolution of gaming technology. How I Built This podcast host Guy Raz, who recently struck an exclusive licensing deal with Amazon and Wondery, will take on the role of guest to discuss how he built his podcast franchise, while Bob Odenkirk and his son, Nate, will step behind the mic for a session on comedic audio storytelling with Audible.
This story first appeared in the March 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.