2009 was an extremely dynamic and transformative year for the Burning Man organization, and the Technology Department was no exception. It was a huge project for Tech Support to pack up, move, and set up our new temporary office space. In addition to moving our geeky base of operations, we also had to keep the rest of the staff functional during this busy time and transition – it’s sort of like changing the tires on a car while you are still driving it.

The System Administration Team continues to support our entire organization and community, mostly from behind the scenes. In addition to the continuous server maintenance, account management, backups, backups of the backups, and email massaging, the team helped wire the new office space, deployed a shared development server, and supported the best wifi network infrastructure in Black Rock City to date.

As is the case in every software development shop, there is a long list of systems that need to be maintained, systems that need to be replaced, processes that must be evaluated and supported and new exciting projects. Our Engineering Team, comprised of project managers, staff and volunteer developers and testers, are continually working to coordinate limited resources and project timelines so that we can meet the myriad critical deadlines while trying to get ahead on some bigger initiatives and new technology platforms. As one might imagine, we spend a lot of time in meetings, figuring out how to manifest miracles.

The Web Team underwent some evolution in 2009, shifting from a staff member top-down leadership role, to a distributed leadership model. After years of our web volunteers mostly feeling relegated to being ?code monkeys?, the group has been very excited to take shape as a consultative body, weighing in on high level project initiatives, new software evaluation, and tackling projects that will enable some content owners to perform simple content changes themselves. There remain many web processes and tasks that are being sorted out and improved, and there is still plenty of monkeying around.

The Burning Man Technology Department continues to be blessed with ongoing dedicated support from dozens of talented volunteers who devote their time and energies to working and playing with us, sometimes on the playa, but in most cases, they are involved on a year round basis, contributing from their computers in locations scattered around the country and beyond. These friends quietly support our community by coding a page here, testing an application there, providing user support here, unsticking a database there, evaluating major software platforms, bailing us out in a jam, providing backup when a staff member is out of town, and bringing us beer and making us laugh so hard that we snort. For that, and much more, we are eternally grateful.

Submitted by
Heather Gallagher