Wired News published a piece I wrote on this year's edition of Burning Man, which begins today in the Nevada desert. About 30,000 are expected to attend.
"The important thing about Burning Man is that it is the most experiential phenomenon I can think of," says [Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder John Perry Barlow, who has been making the yearly pilgrimage since 1997]. "It can't be turned into data in any useful way. You can't informatize it by blogging it, filming it or taking pictures of it, because so much of it can't be translated into information."
Burning Man volunteer Jim Graham isn't fazed when he hears the event derided by some as "Girls Gone Wild" with extra helpings of sand and drugs. "Any time someone makes that kind of generalization, I say 'Yeah! It's exactly like that,' and smile. In the beginning, I came for the spectacle. Now, I come back for the opportunity to interact with so many people who possess such mind-boggling creativity."
Sometimes first-time attendees get a little too mind-boggled. "One crew from Israel last year wanted to do a 24-hour falafel camp," Graham recalls. "I said, 'Guys, maybe you should just do it around dinnertime.' They became such a hit, they were all wiped out by the third day. It's still a temporary city of 30,000 in the middle of nowhere, so there are practical considerations. Bikes get stolen, people get in fights over how loud the trance music is, someone still has to coordinate port-a-potties. But it's like nothing else."
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