Website is the Burning Man community’s living digital entity – the portal into Black Rock City and the Regionals beyond – and is kept alive by a group of talented and dedicated volunteers who work year round with Burning Man staff to keep the site maintained and content fresh. It serves as a central repository for basic event information such as preparing for Burning Man, art installations, theme camps, mutant vehicles, archive images, special events and more

In recent years, the concept of the website as a place where people connect and share ideas has evolved from the early days of the Rideshare and Calendar functionality into a galaxy of various active areas, including blogs, microblogs and social networking sites. In 2009, as the world of social networking burgeoned into new realms of popularity, the Web Team put more emphasis on showing people how and where to connect with others in the Burning Man community.

The Burning Blog, which was created in 2009 by combining together four smaller extant blogs, grew in popularity with double the hits and with the peak August traffic reaching 250,000 hits.  It featured an ongoing dialog of comments from participants on blog posts about everything from the planning and building of Black Rock City to the opening of the event, art at the event as it happened in real time, and off playa events and issues as diverse as digital rights, Black Rock Art Foundation efforts and Cacophony Society happenings. Its pool of a variety of authors from across the Burning Man cultural landscape has brought an increased variety of perspectives about Burning Man culture out in the world.

Burning Man also created presences in social networks including Facebook and Twitter to keep people informed and encourage the free exchange of ideas. Burning Man’s presence there serves to supplement the existing networks where people to meet and discuss the event including Tribe and the Eplaya, and they’ve proven extraordinarily popular.

Some other examples of this year’s evolution and successes include:

  • There was a substantial effort to update and maintain the Reno pages that provide participants with local shopping and other useful information about Burner-friendly businesses in the Reno area. We are exploring ways to streamline this process going forward.
  • We continued working to support our non-profit and affiliate group websites including the Black Rock Art Foundation, Burners Without Borders and Black Rock Solar.
  • We archived all 2008 theme camps and art installations and posted all the theme camps and playa art for 2009, using a new database that made the process of producing the What, When, Where guide more efficient.
  • The homepage was reorganized to include links to Latest News, the Blog, Ways to Stay Connected and Related Groups. Links to the year’s Theme and other important planning pages were prominently featured to make the most sought after information easier to find.
  • Work continued on the updating of the site’s subindex pages and maintaining the Jack Rabbit Speaks archives.
  • In what has become common practice, the team released this year’s Art Theme from the playa, immediately after the Man was burned.
  • The web team also moved towards a more self-managed and distributed model of maintenance, responsibility and development.
Nelz with the Thank You cake at Wet Dusty Crotches

Nelz with the Thank You cake at Wet Dusty Crotches

And most of all, the web team continued on as an essential year-round part of the organization – and one of the most fun groups of volunteers. From our Underpants Party to our Dusty Wet Crotches Pool Party, and our bi-monthly meetings we call Dinner Parties, we did a lot of work and had fun doing it.

In 2010, the web team has a lot on its plate, including assisting the engineering crew with building and testing the new improved Image Gallery, developing new ways to present and upkeep some of the more dynamic pages that are a large time sink before the event each year, and updating our CVS and maintenance processes.

If you would like to be a part of the web team and share your HTML, scripting, image processing, design and user interface expertise among other geek cred, please consider joining the web team.

Submitted by:
John Mosbaugh