SXSW – South by Southwest

March 12, 2023 – 11:59 am

credits: Paula Costa

“Citizens are increasingly becoming consumers, and consumption has become a lifestyle and a culture. Manufacturers wanted to stimulate more demand and consumption. Companies would profit from the degree to which consumer desire and purchasing increases.” This is how Philip Kotler partially explained the industrial revolution of the 19th century in an article published in 2020, evoking, at the height of the pandemic, the contrast between the context of consumption that brought us here and the growing ESG vision. Decades ago, the Polish sociologist and philosopher Zygmunt Bauman also explored the fragility of relationships influenced and influenced by the industrial mindset. Bauman said “we live in fluid times, nothing is made to last”, in a very close dialogue with the acronym “BANI”, which was described in 2018 by American futurist Nunca Cassio to conceptualize a world increasingly accelerated by digitization as “fragile”, “anxious”, “non-linear” and “incomprehensible”.

Short-term thinking, which we questionably assume as the unique standard of the digital age, makes us question whether we are going against the evolution of the human species from the logic of the scarcity of nomadism, to the search for the abundance of a sedentary lifestyle, when we abandon the impermanence of a traveling life and begin to nurture emotional connections in order to live longer and better in fixed communities. Even the word “nomad” has re-emerged with force recently, through the term “digital nomad”, a reality of approximately 1 billion people by 2035 according to Fragomen’s Global Report on Migration Trends, which encourages initiatives such as the recent update in the Aliens Act in Portugal, which now issues visas to foreign experts working in such conditions.

With this concern in the first days of SXSW, the power of the word CONEXÃO reaches the eyes and the senses. From foreseen and unexpected encounters – there is a coincidence! -, passing through the connection between seemingly unrelated contents and activations, to shaping stages like that of the ever-expected futurist Rohit Bhargava, who demonstrated in practice the power of collaboration, sharing the stage with a member of his network of connections, Henry Coutinho-Mason, with whom he co-wrote his the latest book “The Future Normal: How We Will Live, Work and Thrive in the Next Decade”.

Countless clues point to the fact that the treasure of the century is precisely in arriving at the answer that no, digital evolution does not break with the fundamental principle of the condition of the human being that carries a loathing for solitude embedded in the DNA of the thirst for survival. On the contrary, technology is a means of expanding connections and strengthening the sense of community, and it is precisely this social base that drives many applications, media and games that are considered successful references, as well as means from the physical world of all sectors: from art to consumption and education to health. Going through more than 20 in the last 3 years, I have followed head-to-head gaming championships such as The International, bringing together a huge and diverse Dota 2 community; I have seen the growth of multi-brand stores that encourage different tribes and invite them to co-create the space and its offer, such as the Turkish chain Eren Perakende’s House of SuperStep; I met community hubs for impact study and work, such as the Temasek Shophouse in Singapore, geared towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals; I have observed the hype of hotel chains approaching the hostel concept, such as Superbude, which maintains areas for communal living and consumption, and I have been to restaurants such as Seven North in Vienna, which are recognized for orchestrating a mix of traditional and contemporary cuisine in “ mezes” – shared meals, which are very much related to the provocation of chef and humanitarian, founder of World Central Kitchen, José Andrés, who during his talk at SXSW articulated about food that nurtures connections and attachments, encouraging us to project the replacement of “high walls for long tables” around the world.

Many have already realized that this sense of belonging and the socio-cultural and ecological sustainability of the sharing economy is the basis of the behavior that guides people, consumers, experts and organizations in the digital transition, not only because the greatest value of the digital age does not revolve around the price of products and services, but also of experiences, which take place through sensory and immersive narratives, favoring relationships based on purposes and affective connections. No wonder, positions such as community management are emerging, and influencers are being hired for administrative and commercial functions within companies. We are doing everything to find a formula to create innovative and profitable communities, while tracking high volumes of resignations and resignations and fighting for ever-shrinking market shares, straining investments for the challenging process of attracting, retaining and building customer loyalty.

Halfway, we faced the challenge of false security, trying to maintain the models that have brought results so far: offers oriented only on prices for the consumer, positions, salaries and even superficially innovative benefits and conditions, such as some “flexible” work dynamics for associates. Those who are truly looking for a way to build relationships and experience soon realize that instant, polarizing and unsustainable solutions do not create long-term retention and loyalty. When we remember that technology is a means, not an end, it is also evident that the connections we seek are not just in machines or numerical data. The real principle lies in humanization, the topic that most sensitizes the SXSW audience, reinforcing studies that have been growing for several years around the world, such as those presented by the World Economic Forum, pointing to the need to develop soft skills such as intuition and empathy. The same has been said by serious tech professionals, such as artificial intelligence expert Kai-Fu-Lee, who at the previous edition of SXSW defended compassion and creativity as fundamental human skills for evolution, including , digital .

Watching the entire audience at SXSW give psychotherapist and writer Esther Parel a standing ovation, in a screaming and fragile identification with her talk about loneliness masked by hyper-connectivity and artificial intimacy, adds to this evidence that the prosperity of the digital age is in favor, which includes authenticating values ​​such as are care, listening, consideration, preservation, sensitivity and, of course, collective feeling – that’s why some defend it as the “age of women”, which has nothing to do with the genre itself.

After so much mechanization, automation, standardization and scaling of processes and mass production, we are faced with a call to return to our origins, peacemaking and care for the diversity of nature, including us, people in the role of citizens, consumers. , experts and representatives of organizations. This is the time for an ECONOMY OF PASSION, which brings a new perspective of people and leading organizations, motivated by the connecting power of passion, with the freedom to manifest their individuality and multiple complex and deep layers, in the same way as Steven Grasse, author of the book “Brand Mysticism”, is on the panel championed the creation of humanized and viral brands, through broad and multisensory universes, that foster continued interest and connection with the public.

In this context, people see themselves beyond position or professional training, reaching their best versions in a holistic way and walking purposeful journeys, falling in love with who they are and the spaces they belong to, where complex challenges are solved by intelligent, diverse and diverse ecosystems.flexible. To paraphrase the inspiring José Andrés once again, “big problems can be solved in a simple way”. The shaping of this community culture goes through a chain that revises current hierarchical standards, where everyone is a producer and receiver of a related product, service or experience. And, if this seems like a very far-fetched evolutionary principle, just use the lens of biophilia, the science that studies and reproduces nature’s models, and dive into one of the themes highlighted so far at SXSW 2023: the “natural internet” formed by fungi, which connect and they transport nutrients from plant roots seemingly far above the ground.

Adopting this systemic view responds to the challenge of creating communities in the non-linear temporal and spatial dimensions of the digital age. That’s why in a large-scale event like SXSW, we look at network intelligence and connectivity formulas in a transversal way, as the basis of methods that go through political, social, economic and ecological pillars, such as, for example, communities and smart cities and enterprises based on to DAOs, autonomous decentralized organizations that format the WEB 3. And here we encounter technology again, to reinforce the fact that it exists only as a means and is effective if it is designed and sustained by the humanization and affective connections of people who condition their actions with a responsible awareness of influence and inheritance as agents of transformation. By the way, that’s exactly what ESG is all about! People, professionals and organizations that embrace the Passion Economy movement as a community culture, understand and provoke the awakening of creative people and consumers, innovative professionals and sustainable organizations.

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