It’s day two of SXSW. Are you ready to get into installations, conversations, and creative inspiration?
After an insightful day one which delved into the changing landscape of content, a keynote from Planned Parenthood, and the novelty and nuances of real world entertainment, we set out to cover new ground today. From NFTs to the future of the creative economy to understanding web3, here’s the latest and greatest from SXSW Day Two.
Web3, Decentralization, and DAO
There’s no doubt what the buzzwords of SXSW 2022 are: web3, decentralization, DAO, metaverse, NFT, blockchain, crypto.
Confused? Don’t worry – there are plenty of sessions that cover everything from the basics to the intricacies of how to start your own.
In our first session of the day “2022: The Year of the DAO”, we got right into it. What is a DAO? Put simply, it’s a decentralized autonomous organization that uses web3 primitives to form a new form or corporation without a central leadership. To put it in layman’s terms, one of our speakers said simply, “it’s like a group chat with a shared bank account.”
The benefit of a DAO is that it’s quick and cheaper to set up than a more formal entity, with less regulation and capital needed. Even better, it works on a more communal level, where investors can actually work with founders in a far less siloed relationship than traditional investment. That form of working together can mean anything from investment of capital to investment of expertise and/or resources.
We see the benefits and ease of crypto at play in our world today. In a manner of weeks $50 million was raised in cryptocurrency and sent to the Ukrainian government. To go through traditional forms of investing, that monetary influx would take far longer to get to liquidity, essentially not giving those who need it access at the pace they really require it.
So how do you join a DAO? The panel suggested you start quite simply: you come into an existing DAO group chat and say you’re here and want to be affiliated and ask who the core contributors are. From there, there’s a bounty system where you can pick up a few simple tasks like taking notes at meetings. Over time, you build credibility and you may step into a full project, and eventually step into leadership. Once in leadership you are a core contributor yourself. It’s not simply that you join a DAO and that that’s your full-time job, but rather that you can join and over time work to earn a full-time salary while building social capital along the way (and in the intervening time, earn equity or NFTs or ownership otherwise).
The challenge for some here is that DAOs are an opt-in culture. Unlike a traditional job or even a club, nobody is going to tell you what to do. But that’s also what many find exciting about them. You contribute in a way that works for you. Up until now, companies have not been allowed to pay contributors without looking to do so in a regulatory-compliant way. And so when you come to a community and you contribute value, you could earn a token in what the panelists describe as more of an Ownership Economy.
So what’s up next for DAO? The barrier to entry may be big for some, so the next phase comes down to DAO tooling. How can people more easily break into this world? That’s the next question the industry faces as it looks for a broader appeal.
We then caught up on “Connecting Web3 With the Real World” which seeks to define Web3 as “a reinvention of how people agree with each other, and how they agree with each other through institutions, platforms, and any number of systems.” Sergey Naarov of Chainlink seeks to move us away from the paper guarantee standard and advocate for Web3 which essentially moves us into a world of (cryptographically) guaranteed outcomes.
What is Web3? Sergey explains it succinctly: “Web3 is a reinvention of how people agree with each other, and how they agree with each other through institutions, platforms, and any number of other systems.”
Web3 gave way naturally to our next topic of conversation – how to ensure ownership and authenticity in this new murky space.
Protecting Creatives Work: NFTs & Digital Provenance
Top of mind for creators within this ever-changing landscape of the creator economy is how to ensure they are properly credited for their work. As NFTs continue to grow in adoption and use, there’s a greater sense that we can follow the trail through blockchain and there’s transparency in the process; but what about before the minting?
And on the flip side, as our culture faces an ever-growing thread of misinformation and fake news, how can editorial teams know that images and creative they are publishing are legitimate? How can readers know that they are looking at a photo from today and not four years ago?
Those are the questions that Adobe looked to cover in their session “Protecting Creatives Work: NFTs & Digital Provenance.”
If we can delineate the stages of artwork into three phases: artwork provenance, mint, and token provenance, we’ve solved the issue of credit in the second two phases, but there is still some ambiguity about the first.
To help combat that, Adobe launched the Content Authority Initiative, which is a fully open source, open standard initiative with partners across the industry. Their directive is simple, as Will Anderson noted, “instead of guessing what’s false, we can prove what’s true.”
The standard protocol to date is to be able to discredit an image, through proving that it’s been manipulated or that it wasn’t possible to have taken at that place or at that time. Instead, Adobe sought to switch that up and develop more trust through proving what’s true.
This is how Content Credentials were born – based on the idea that you can add cryptography to metadata to ensure tamper-proof credentialing on creative material. By using Content Credentials in Photoshop, creators have total control of what and how they want to show their credential from facts about the asset creation: authorship, modifications, device details, software used, and many other subjects. And on the flip side, viewers of media can go to a verification site and see all of this cryptographically assigned metadata through a full audit trail that verifies the authenticity of the image and its creator.
By addressing both sides (the audience and the creator), we can look to solve artistic provenance in the growing age of digital art.
With all of the discussion around the future of creativity, DAOs, blockchain, and more, it follows suit that we need to discuss the parameters around humane technology; that’s why we headed over to the expert…
Humane Technology: Why the Social Dilemma is Not Destiny
Center of Humane Technology Co-Founder Tristan Harris discussed the wisdom we need to steer the future of technology. He opened with similar subject matter to what we learned this morning – deep fakes and the ever-growing presence of them. As the world grows more complex and technology grows at a faster rate, our ability to respond is not matching up. There’s an ever-growing complexity gap and the key to close it is wisdom.
We learned about the inadequacies of our current modalities of thinking in addressing the issues of our time. And Tristan talked a lot about the perception gap, and how the more time we spend online – on social media specifically – the wider our perception gap becomes. He presented the example: if you ask Republicans how many Democrats identify as LGBTQIA+, they say 1/3, when the actual number is about six percent. This led to covering “reality jamming” – where we have less empathy for each other because we live in bad faith perceptions of one another. In essence, social media is driving further polarization by taking advantage of weaknesses in our own brains.
Here’s where humane technology comes into play.
Where existing tech is focused on central product principles of giving users what they want and acknowledging every tech has goods and bads, a more humane technology might respect human vulnerabilities and seek to minimize harmful externalities. Where existing tech says technology is neutral, we might move towards the idea that technology should support fairness and justice.
He finished the session by encouraging folks to learn more with the curriculum being developed at his organization.
Keynote: Reggie Fils-Aimé
Reggie Fils-Aimé is the former President and COO of Nintendo of America and is at SXSW this year to talk about growing trends, innovation, and how we should be thinking about gaming, the metaverse, and more. In his chat with Bloomberg’s Emily Chang, he spoke about the metaverse: “For me, the metaverse is a digital space where you interact with your friends in a social and gaming type of environment. It’s social, it’s digital, and there’s an ability to really interact with friends and people who have the potential to be friends. I believe that elements of the metaverse already exist.”
All of this speaks to the world of innovation that Reggie has spearheaded in his role as a leader in gaming. As the world of gaming has evolved, Reggie spoke to the role of new technology – specifically blockchain – and it’s potential with play-to-own gaming.
“I’m a believer in blockchain, it’s really compelling technology. I’m also a believer in the concept of play-to-own within video games.” The idea that you can invest hours into a game, and when you’re ready to move onto something else, it would be great to monetize what you’ve built. Imagine you could sell your Animal Crossing island. If blockchain technology was embedded into the code and development of the game, you could do just that. However, the important thing to remember here is that however we build it, it needs to make sense for the gamer, not just for the game developer or development company.
And a whole lot of other great ideas, installations, and inspiration…
Between seeing meta humans interviewed live on stage with Mark Cuban to understanding how Saatchi Art evolved its iconic Other Art Fair to become The Other Avatars (and sell out in a record 20 minutes), to venturing over to NFT Doodles, SXSW was full of equal parts adventure and insight. Check back here tomorrow as we dive further into the world of immersive storytelling and future technology.