Jrs V11 I05


Jack Rabbit Speaks
Volume 11, Issue 5
January 5, 2007

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The time has finally come. Tickets for this year’s Burning Man will be made available on January 17, 10AM PST. On your mark, get ready and … well, last year things didn’t really go that well. Here is an important message from our long-time vendor, In Ticketing.

To ensure that everyone gets a fair chance to purchase tickets, we have added a new step to the ticket buying experience. When you arrive to purchase tickets, you will be securely placed into a queue or line. When your place in the queue is reached, you will be directed into the ticket purchase process and you’ll get a chance to buy your tickets.

A perfect analogy of this experience is the traffic flow into the Burning Man event. You arrive in your vehicle. There are others in front of you and behind you, so you patiently wait in line as the participants ahead of you get welcomed, have their tickets taken and enter the event.

If you get to the queue right when tickets go on sale, there still may be thousands of “cars” ahead of you. This may not ensure that you will get the lowest priced ticket, but you will receive the same chance as every other participant.

The only link you’ll need: http://tickets.burningman.com (Please read all the information here, it is important.)

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t simple last year. Here is what happened. Many thousands of people apparently “got in line”, even before ticket sales commenced. Pent alone in private chutes, half-hypnotized by their computer screens, many appeared to think that they were standing at the head of their own private queue. Think of it: maybe 20,000 people in the V.I.P. line! It’s very understandable that people urgently wanted their tickets, and it’s equally understandable that they were quite upset when this maelstrom crashed our system. It was like the Mother of all Traffic Jams on the Santa Monica Freeway, and weird, anomalous results only tormented people further. In Ticketing and our own hardworking staff members personally responded to hundreds of complaints.

And yet, it was the character of some of these complaints that particularly caught my attention. Many people were upset beyond all measure. I’m talking about visceral rage. This year, if it’s any comfort, you should be able to see your place in line and better understand what’s happening. But, even if you can’t, consider this: What was all that bitter rage about? Saving money? Maybe, but the entire ticket price is only small fraction of what the vast majority of folks spend in order to attend the event. If this is really not your case, and that $20 leap in price really represents hardship for you, we have a low income and scholarship program, and both are prominently featured in our ticket information.

I remember reading emails, angry and denunciatory emails, by people who said they had spent eight, nine and ten hours at their computers, and this caused me to wonder: how much money was their time worth? Two dollars an hour? Three dollars an hour? Of course, we’ll take responsibility for doing a better job with this ticket launch. We’ve had a year to think this through, and we have made some changes, and so has In. But the truth is that many folks, although not everyone, got caught up in a kind of mania. How absurd some of this behavior now seems in retrospect. I remember watching some prospective buyers rant on the web for hours, only to post a final message, “Oh! I got my ticket. Never mind! I’m so happy!” They’d gone from rage to joy in fifteen seconds.

I really don’t want to be too hard on anyone. When you are isolated and feel frustrated it is very easy to lose your temper. But isn’t it ironic that all of the sturm and drang about getting there first, about competing with thousands of other consumers, should arise among a group of people who are dedicated to a non-consumerist event that is devoted to cooperation and collaboration.

This year, as your part in making things work, we recommend you take a step back and consider what level ticket you can afford, and how much your time is worth. Hopefully, this year’s system will save time for you and make the process less frustrating and confusing in the first place. If our first allotment of $195 tickets sells out, a second gate will silently slide open, offering another 10,000 tickets for $225 apiece. Finally, when the last gate is automatically triggered, yet another 10,000 tickets will be available at $250. This amounts to 30,000 tickets, nearly three quarters of our population in 2006! Aside from that, many of the first day’s buyers do make the choice to buy at the level they can afford rather than snapping up all the cheapest tickets, so there should surely be enough to satisfy demand all around. During the wait for your place in line, if your neck gets tense, if you begin to pound the keyboard, please rest assured – you’re not alone nor need you be alone. There is a place that waits for you in Black Rock City.

– Larry Harvey

We at BMHQ are especially excited about this year’s theme, and the creativity we know will you’re already cooking up for the Green Man:


(By the way, the art grant deadline was misstated in JRSV11:#4 – the correct date is February 15. See http://www.burningman.com/installations/art_guidelines.html )

We look forward to seeing you this year.

239 days.


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