Ah, technology … how it burns (Image by Stefan Krause)
Every now and then someone proposes a new technological fix for what many at Burning Man don’t see as a problem in the first place. The debate that results usually boils down to a parody of intellectual discussion, as performed by a sparkle pony named “Meerkat” and a shirtcocker named “Thunder”:
MEERKAT: “YOU AND YOUR PHONE DON’T UNDERSTAND OR RESPECT THE 10 PRINCIPLES!”
THUNDER: “YOU’RE A LUDDITE TRADITIONALIST WHO DOESN’T APPRECIATE TECHNOLOGY!”
MEERKAT: “HEY, LOOK, A GIANT PIRATE SHIP PILOTED BY COOKIE MONSTER!”
THUNDER: “I’M GOING TO POST ABOUT IT TO ALL MY FRIENDS!”
MEERKAT: “DAMN YOU, TRAITOR!”
THUNDER: “WHY CAN’T I GET A SIGNAL? OH CRUEL WORLD!”
This is a lot of fun to watch at three in the morning, but it’s not productive.
If we’re going to have a productive debate about technology, the terms of the discussion really need to change.
The first thing to realize is that an event in the desert founded on radical self-reliance can’t be anti-technology. Technology is a form of radical self-reliance. What you can’t do yourself you develop tools to do, and tools become machines, and machines become systems – and systems become “technology” as a whole. We absolutely rely on our tools to survive, let alone to build and thrive, and the idea that Burning Man culture is incompatible with the development of better tools is ludicrous.
This has been a busy year at Burning Man HQ; a move, a new Project, a lot of activity, worldwide outreach and of course, planning for TTITD, however, we were able to get all the reports in, find images for each page, format everything and QA the beast known as the AfterBurn 2013.
Last year’s Census has been turned into a beautiful single document and in the AfterBurn you can read all about the challenges faced and met, the fantastic Art that graced the playa, organizational and city infrastructural updates with new strategies moving forward, and as always, you can read reports from all the teams that make Burning Man happen.
With the new Burning Man galleries we’ve created a new moderator account and we’re able to grab images that aren’t in the gallery (and give credit to the photographers of course). Many thanks to Mr. John Curley who shared some DPW pics from his most excellent blogs and also thanks David Marr who also took some great pre-event pics. And thank you ALL Burners who take your photos of the event and share them on the Burning Man galleries. Special thanks to Scotto for the QA.
The AfterBurn is becoming a nice ongoing history of Burning Man.
This time of year, every year, as the sun returns and days grow longer, I am perpetually surprised and overwhelmed by the indubitable flourish of life that rises from a thawing long winter existence that held us cold and gray transfixed in darkness for what seems like so long. All around us rises the essence of resurrection as plants pop, bulbs shoot with flowers blooming, bees buzzing and every living thing is struggling upward towards the sun and suddenly where there was nothing but defeated pulverized grass, crawls extant these growing tendrils of life breaking through everywhere; climbing, exploding with color, painting the earth green and blasting fast across our part of the planet that is once again tilting towards our sun.
With spring sprung and flowers a poppin, whilst sugar demon peeps are peepin all seeping into your Easter EGGstatic consciousness and the vestige of winter sog slop slogging is stopping, I felt our newborn sun creeping warm across my whiskered face and my thoughts turned to reveries of my most resplendent time with some bunnies.
Those Bunnies are the Bunnies of Bunny Jam, and same Bunnies of the Billion Bunny March; a most happy hopping, seriously protesting, floppy eared kind of kindest fuzzy kin.
I’ve written about my love of Santas for I have been a Santa, drunk and boisterous, and of Clowns with whom I have marginally experimented, and I’ve mentioned my encounter with an aught two unholy alliance those unkempt ruffians formed against the Bunnies at Santa’s Black Market. My friend Mr. Evans with his fellow conspirators in thought crime, duly and most wonderfully documented the exploits of a motherload of culture jamming that manifested in the SF Bay Area in their “Tales of the Cacophony Society”, however, one group, the Santas, like all good things after one too many bottles of Pine Sol, began their inevitable slouch towards becoming a tad more of an interloper social menace party and less a group of spontaneous subversives. As the Santa stroll bar hop was hitting its stride a silly hopping kind of phenomenon rose from another holiday and rooted in carrot love, populated by gentle spring time sprung , furry familiars – raised its floppy eared head.
In a lecture at Stanford University on January 14, 2011, Fred Turner (Associate Professor of Communication) discussed his opinions on the social phenomenon of Burning Man and how he thinks the ideals of the festival apply to the marketplace that is evolving in our society, specifically in the Silicon Valley.
It’s a fascinating talk, filled with interesting insights … watch for yourself, and share your thoughts in the comments below:
[This post is part of the 10 Principles blog series, an ongoing exploration of the history, philosophy and dynamics of Burning Man's 10 Principles in Black Rock City and around the world. We welcome your voice in the conversation.]
“This will never fit into a Twitter update.”
Ten years ago I saw a guy dressed like a stockbroker walking along the Esplanade. He was wearing a dust-covered suit and tie, yelling into a cell phone, “Sell, I said! SELL!!!!” It was cute.
Last year I saw quite a few people checking cell phones at Center Camp throughout the week. It was not cute.
Over the years, cell phone & internet access has become more and more accessible at Burning Man – and I think it is a shame. Do I have any right to dictate how someone behaves or “Radically Expresses” themselves? Nope. But I think the Playa’s rare gift of “Immediacy” is in jeopardy.
I was asked about my thoughts this week and clarified my frustration in the video below.
These views are solely the views of Halcyon and do not represent the opinions of The Burning Man Organization or Major League Baseball.
Burning Man is pleased to announce the launch of Spark!
Spark is an online application designed to facilitate connections among Burners, fostering collaborative efforts related to theme camps, art installations, mutant vehicles and other Burning Man–related projects. Spark provides a secure, centralized place for people to post listings to seek or offer resources and skill sets to make projects a reality.
So let’s say you can’t possibly pull off your project without a carpenter, electrician, sword-swallower, welder, dancer, aerialist, fire performer, painter, hooper, dude with a truck, seamstress, zebra trainer, project manager, or a 6’5″ woman who juggles flaming chainsaws. Pop a listing onto Spark seeking what you seek!
Or let’s say you’re any one (or more) of those things and you want to offer your skills to a worthy project. Pop a listing onto Spark offering what you have to offer!
But keep this in mind: Spark is not intended to be a commercial connection engine — it’s about collaborations. If you’re offering commercial services, please do that elsewhere. If you’re looking to promote your fundraiser, Spark is not the place for it … use our Support a Project page for that. Take a look at our Spark community guidelines for more information.
We hope you find this to be a useful tool in sparking your ultimate Burning Man experience. Now, click the link and … go forth and collaborate!
I’ve believed Zachary Coffin was part of a select group of great Burning Man artists ever since I first encountered his Temple of Gravity in 2003. He is one of the artists out there who builds something you can’t help but see. You will visit it throughout your week there and you will use as a landmark. He fills up the space because he works on such a huge scale and he fills it with awe. His works on playa include 2001′s Rockspinner, 2003′s Temple of Gravity, 2005′s Colossus and this year, as you’ll read below, he’s bringing us The Universe Revolves around YOU.
Colossus by Zachary Coffin
Zach is an artist who works with really big things and by big things I mean twenty thousand pound spinning and hanging boulders, heavy steel structures that allow you to interact with the weight of freight trains, and the pull of the Moon on the Earth to power Tidal Indicators. He’s like a bright spark, excited about what he’s doing yet low key about it even though he’s larger than life in many ways. Talking with him about his art you get the feeling you’re talking to an incarnation of some great God of the mountain who is pulling out stones so large that more than one would pulverize a semi with its weight. And he’s building these structures to handle that weight, then loading the whole thing up and bringing them out to Black Rock City to make those stones seem as light as a row of birds on a wire.
He and I sat down over beers across from the Burning Man HQ last week and Zach told me,
“You see a huge boulder. Ever since you were a little kid, you were never able to move that boulder. I can make it possible for you to move that boulder and through that process you can begin to understand what’s possible through engineering and through technology.” He stopped and thought a moment then added, “on a visceral level.”
He has a bit of a twinkle in his eye when he tells you his ideas, like he’s in on something so large you’re only going to get a small glimpse of what lives there, but that glimpse is big enough to blow your mind. I’ve met a fair share of artists and Zach’s one of the sincere ones. He smiles a lot and has a good humor about him and he gives off a genuinely kind vibe. Update: There is now a KickStarter campaign for the project. Please donate if you can: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1642032931/universe-revolves-around-you
By Maxo. [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) via Wikimedia Commons
If you get enough burners together in a room, they will probably (A) throw a party that involves at least partial nudity, or (B) create a sculpture installation that involves at least partial nudity. Because … well … really, is there a better option?
But if you get a lot of Burning Man regional representatives from around the world together into one room, they will probably end up having a panel discussion on best practices – and it will involve serious note-taking.
I mention this to set the stage for the Burning Man Regional Network Summit, where I found myself surrounded by many of the people who are absolutely essential to Burning Man at the state and local level … and geez, were they taking notes. What I’m saying is: data was compared. Best practices were rocked. Flow charts flew. Did they have fire? No – but they had mad fire safety tips. There were no DJ’s … which is kind of a blessing, once you’re in the middle of a nice conversation with a woman from Prague and you actually want to hear what she’s saying … but there was a lot of talk about how to integrate people who want to DJ into your volunteer structure. Because, Christ, a lot of you want to DJ.
It clearly takes all kinds to Burn a Man, and one of the first meetings I attended was about how to reach out to your local burner community and keep everyone in the loop. This is essential, not just because it helps them know what Burning Man is up to but because it also makes people more likely to come out of the woodwork and explain how they can help. Because, goddamn, those of you who don’t want to DJ often have incredible skills no one saw coming.