Playa Info

Playa Info continued its successful combination of all Burning Man information resources under one roof. The services included:

  • Answers to questions by “Oracles”
  • The computer-based “Directory” with participant and theme camp information on a zoom-able BRC map, messaging, updated news, event information, and ride boards
  • Found items
  • Volunteer coordinators to match participants with volunteer opportunities
  • Dynamic find-a-camp board, a layout of the city posted to allow on-the-fly, interactive mapping of theme camp location
  • Bulletin boards

Playa Info had an even stronger team in 2006, with more than 90 on-playa volunteers. The increased numbers allowed better coverage for answering questions and servicing the increased participant usage of the Directory computer terminals. The pre-playa meetings with the core volunteer group were critical in establishing our offered services and informational materials, as well as the more artistic creation of new signage, the fabulously flowing fabric décor, and night-lighting ambience. Our red-attired shade structure still seems to be the cool cyber café in the midst of the hot days–and an inadvertent alternative to the Center Camp Café. People just enjoyed hanging out and getting all the latest info!

We had some terrific volunteers who, in addition to working on fun projects, suggested ways to further improve and expand our services. These included directory feature improvements, laminate design, pocket maps of Black Rock City, and camp decorations. The redesigned Dynamic Board allowed participant interaction as well as provided Black Rock City details and updates; it was easily referenced at the shade structure’s front-right entry. Oracles and participants interacted with much artistic merriment through props, games, and even singing! The Playa Info Ambassadors, our on-foot-with-wagon staff, got into stride spreading much-appreciated info amongst the participants as well as incorporating Burning Man principles in their messages.

This year Playa Info moved beyond the playa by setting up and communicating an Info Desk/Directory/Found Item toolkit for volunteers at Regional events. Playa Info volunteers ran the Info Desks at the Fire Arts Festival and the Flambé Lounge/Precompression, as well as extending services into nighttime hours at the San Francisco Decompression.

Playa Info meetings began in February and culminated in October with a review meeting/Bar-B-Q/internal decompression. While we had a great year, we noted areas that we could improve to offer even better info-related service in 2007. For improvements, we plan to work on the following projects:

  • Cross-communicating and planning coordination with other Burning Man departments
  • Increasing advertising of Playa Info services, including the Directory
  • Recruiting more Playa Info volunteers–perennially we need more volunteers for info services on Burn Day and particularly for take down on Sunday, Monday and thereafter
  • Expanding the Playa Info Ambassador role to work with other Burning Man departments, for example Earth Guardians and Rangers, to communicate important information to participants
  • Continued expanding of consultation and volunteerism to info desks at off-playa events
  • Adding features to the Directory, such as a search engine and possibly adding a few terminals outside of Center Camp
  • Building more functional and cool looking tables for the Directory computer systems
  • Finding ways to decrease wait times for Directory terminals
  • Green Man themed Playa Info laminates
  • Pocket Black Rock City maps with space on which to write notes
  • Training manual update
  • Continued cross-training of Directory and Oracle volunteers

2006 successes included:

  • An unparalleled reliable Directory computer info system available 24/7 with virtually no down time
  • Increased numbers of Directory terminals helped alleviate participant wait time (greatly increased usage notwithstanding)
  • White board listed the top questions and their answers
  • Great co-volunteer coordinators helped manage larger numbers of volunteers
  • An additional assistant manager and leads who assumed responsibility for the management of Playa Info
  • Updated Playa Info training manual
  • Attitude made communication easy and fun for participants and volunteers, including singing and employing accessories to help answer questions
  • Planned coordination with Department of Public Works for significantly easier camp setup
  • Walk-around volunteers assisted participants using the Directory
  • Created an Info Desk Guide Regional volunteers
  • Comfortable meeting place environment for people to hang out or wait
  • “Hope and Fear: the Future” themed Playa Info laminates with “Ask Me – I Can Help” printed on the flipside clearly identified Playa Info staff
  • Volunteer training
  • Assistance from a special (non-Playa Info) team devoted to found bikes

Rob Oliver
Manager, Playa Info