Hey, did you notice us while you drove up to the Black Rock City gate? We were the ones wearing white lab coats, asking you questions, and having tons of fun. One of us had a fox face, one of us had glowing green Medusa hair, and several of us had bunny ears and fishnet stockings. On some days, we were all coated in a thick layer of dust.
If you met us out there, then you already know what this year’s Census sampling team was up to. We recited our informed consent scripts, and let you know that your participation was completely voluntary and anonymous. We explained how our volunteer researchers would use a few tidbits of data about you to get a sense of who, exactly, comes to Burning Man. And then you took four or five minutes to answer eight questions on a paper form, and voila!, you had given your first gift to Burning Man. The gift of data.
The backbone of this sampling effort, naturally, was our extraordinary volunteers! We had five sampling teams that covered five sampling shifts, some of them pre-dawn (we got to watch the sun rise together!) and some of them in the full blast of midday dust. We welcomed you home, and most of you were happy to help us out. Thanks! Then our datatypistas set to work digitizing your survey responses, so we could analyze the data.
But why did we do this? This year we expanded our Census project to include data collection from a randomized sample, which was a first for us. Why you ask? (more…)