SXSW 2022: Impressions From the Opening Weekend

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The SXSW 2022 Conference kicked off last Friday. It seems like everyone is writing about what’s going on in Austin. So we decided to take a different approach and analyze the online side of the conference.

Come with me.

SXSW 2022 is a hybrid event. This means that all (or most of) the sessions happen in-person, there in Austin, Texas, and at the website if you bought a ticket. 

Being in the online side of things has its ups and downs. 


  • No FOMO. Yes, some really awesome sessions are concurrent, but the little VOD (Video On Demand) sign in the corner of your screen provides peace of mind that the video will be there for me to watch later.
  • The ability to swap between sessions at any time, whether they happen at the Convention Center, the Paramount, or the ACC Ballroom.
  • Being in the comfort of your own home. In case you like the comfort of your own home 😉


  • Not being there. You kinda miss a lot of the action. Human connectivity is different when you physically bump into each other.
  • Also, if you’re doing the online version, you’re probably working at the same time that you’re watching the sessions. This can suck the authenticity of the moment away from you. Although you do watch the content, you might be thinking about that spreadsheet you need to fix by the end of the day.
  • No autographs and selfies with that founder or movie director you would do anything to have in your hands.

Some of the takeaways from SXSW 2022 Online’s opening weekend

Our team took a good look at some of the live sessions. Of course, since this relates to our products, we kept an eye on the interactivity of components on SXSW’s website.

I noticed that the live chat widget is a bit clunky. For some reason it kept requesting to sign in after just a few minutes of inactivity. Once signed in, it offers the options to send text messages, emojis and upload files. We missed a GIF search and sharing option. For a long time GIFs have been a way to express emotions and to communicate in groups. And, even though the upload file feature can be used for a bunch of different things, there’s no real use for it in a virtual event group chat.

SXSW Live Chat
Live Chat trap: when your engagement tool becomes a mere support channel.

One Live Chat trap that event organizers should give more attention to: Live Chat can become some sort of a support channel if there’s no one there to guide the conversation. Therefore, it would help to have a moderator in the wings. We spotted attendees complaining that the sound was too low, they were asking the camera to show the slides instead of the speaker, and some even spammed with their Linkedin profiles.

The Q&A tab, on the other hand, is where the hybrid action actually happens. This feature allows online attendees to submit questions directly to the organizers and lecturers. They can be upvoted and replied to, so organizers can pick which ones they want to answer on stage.

Live Q&A is a powerful feature for conferences and events like SXSW.

There’s also a direct message chat widget which can be activated on top of the group chat. In this feature people can talk directly to other participants about whatever they want. It’s usually used to talk and do business, introduce companies and schedule meetings, but not to talk about the sessions.

Our team picked up some valuable content from the online sessions. 

Scott Galloway’s Famous Predictions on SXSW 2022

Scott Galloway brought his highly expected Provocative Predictions to the stage. Being a mediatic person, much of the content wasn’t new to people who follow him closely on CNN+ or the Pivot podcast. Still, he is gifted with dodging buzz – or yogababble (“another ridiculous business: Space Tourism”, “big flowery terminology for 2022: web3”) and conflicting trends against reality that just makes you want to see him saying it over and over again. 

SXSW 2022 Scott Galloway Live Stream
Prof G takes the stage. Online and in-person.

At the same time, Galloway shows solutions to the themes he doesn’t clearly bet on. For instance, on the whole metaverse+crypto+blockchain realm, he said “You can have Chanel bags or the Chanel logo as your visual metaphor in the metaverse… I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think this coin would go for $100,000, $500,000. Imagine the speculation it would attract. So overnight, I believe Chanel or Hermès could raise $5 billion to $10 billion, trying to monetize this scarcity.”

Amy Webb’s keynote at SXSW 2022

Still pulling from the highly-expected shelf, Amy Webb, futurist and best selling author, brought her Emerging Tech Trend Report that everyone will be talking about until she releases the next issue. Re-perception is the keyword here: Amy wants you to stare at issues beyond the surface, because this is the way you can learn how to “predict” the future. Once you get more information about things that are unclear, you can find and add new patterns to your mental model.

SXSW Amy Webb
Amy Webb invites the audience to practice re-perception as she presents her Emerging Tech Trend Report.

By the way, her Tech Trends report is fully downloadable here.


SXSW 2022 started this year’s edition in high style. And we’re there to bring you the latest news, the surprising trends, and the insightful reflections. Where? Here! Stay tuned for more surprises. 

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