The Tech Subcommittee, one of the first of several organization-wide subcommittees, was formed in late 2009. This body is comprised of individuals representing major event- and infrastructure-related functions that rely on Technology Department systems and support. In addition, we have several Geek-At-Large volunteer members who bring significant experience from their ‘Default World’ tech engagements. The group is responsible for reviewing tech projects and making recommendations to the Executive Committee on priorities and resources for the following year.

It was a daunting task to educate this diverse group on the vast number of technology systems and projects. It took several long meetings just to build a foundation of knowledge and bring everyone up to speed on the latest geek speak. In addition, the Tech Department led the group to create evaluation criteria and a rating system by which pre-existing and emerging tech projects can be evaluated. Once the group got rolling, the scoring efforts were pretty amusing and it almost seemed that the group was participating in some sort of high-speed auction.

The Tech Subcommittee convenes twice a year in meetings where the group is brought up to speed on the latest status of projects, shifts in timelines are discussed, new projects are presented and evaluated, and priorities are set for the next 12 to 18 months.  This collaborative process helps organization leadership learn about the complexities of technology projects and resources required. It also enables the group to more effectively communicate with their staff and each other.

Working to support all these tech projects and priorities, the Tech Department staff are busier than ever before. We have made significant headway on the replacement of a number of our legacy systems. In addition to developing and maintaining custom software, our Engineering Team has been focusing on top-quality evaluative processes to select out-of-the-box software solutions for common business functions. In order to more effectively provide easy-to-use systems for staff and community, and to keep our future maintenance costs low, we collectively endeavor to find the best solutions for the organization’s current and future technology needs.

We continue to have rock solid support from our System Administration and Tech Support teams. These folks keep our laptops and servers purring and make sure we have the connectivity and tools in place so that everyone else can do their jobs. Some users may not think about these sorts of underlying technologies, or at least not until something goes wrong on a very rare occasion, but we totally appreciate the behind-the-scenes work and late night troubleshooting that it takes to keep things magically flowing.

In addition to keeping our web pages up to date, tending to the  Blog and other bits and pieces of our huge website, the Web Team is working on projects that enable content owners to update their own web pages and to bring some more dynamic elements to the Burning Man website. This group is slowly morphing into a multi-purpose tech consulting body and we will be further developing this concept and expanding our volunteer team’s participation and engagement in 2011.

Submitted by,
Heather Gallagher