Don’t be surprised if a group of lab coat-clad scientists descends upon your vehicle as you approach the Greeters station this year. You might just be one of the lucky ones selected by the Census Samplers! These eager burning nerds are keen to include you in a scientific probability sample of Black Rock City’s population. They’re gathering data to get a more accurate picture of who is attending Burning Man this year. Aren’t you curious to know?
Last year 42% of the people who participated in the Black Rock City Census considered themselves artists, and an additional 35% considered themselves artists sometimes (read prior stats from the Census). Do these numbers seem high to you? Low? We don’t know if the people who voluntarily filled out the Census were truly representative of the citizens of BRC.
So, this year Census volunteers (this could be you!) will conduct a systematic random sample of vehicles entering the event. Census Samplers will ask a small number of participants to answer a small number of questions. They will enter the data into a smartphone and then be on their way. The statisticians at the Census Lab (located in Center Camp) are going to use the data collected by the Census Samplers to correct the results of the larger sample. In the end, we will have a scientifically valid picture of the population of Black Rock City. And as they say at the Census—knowledge is power! As usual, no names will be collected on the Census form. Only aggregated data will be published; your individual responses will remain confidential.
There are several ways that you can participate in the Census this year…
- Donate your used smartphones and tablets.
- Volunteer with the Census. You’ll be a scientist!!!
- When you get to Black Rock City–fill out the Census form.
Donating an Android Phone or Tablet:
* The Census Samplers NEED your old Android smartphone to do this critical work. If you’re ready to get rid of your phone, consider donating it to the Census. The Census Samplers are looking for Androids with an operating system of 2.3 or later. If your phone was made in the last two years, it should work for sampling purposes. It does NOT have to have go online or have a sim card. If you can donate your phone with its working charger, battery, and memory card, too, that would be very cool. You won’t get your phone back, but you will make these demographers’ dream come true.
* If you are ready to get rid of your tablet, the Census team would love to take it off your hands and put it to work so that we can directly enter Census forms and connect folks to independent research questions. Any kind of tablet in any condition will do, as long as it can still get online. And a power cord would be nice.
Send your phones and tablets to Census @ Burning Man, 995 Market Street, San Francisco CA 94117.
* The Census needs forty Samplers to interview folks and type the data into Android phones. Shifts are 3 hours long. Although the event does not begin until 12:01am on Monday, August 27th, this year the Gate will open at 6pm on Sunday, August 26th to ease traffic and ensure public safety. This means that the busiest time for Census Samplers will be Sunday evening and Monday. The Samplers will finish up Thursday evening, and cap off the project with a big shebang. If you already have an early arrival pass, or are available at that time, you are the Sampling team’s dream come true.
* If you would like to help with other aspects of the project, volunteers are needed to help at the Census Lab in Center Camp. The team needs help pre-event to set up the Lab and install the Census kiosks around the city. Volunteers are needed during the event to keep the Census kiosks stocked, to retrieve completed Census forms and process them in the shade, and to greet visitors to the Census Lab and offer them a tablet or paper Census form. Volunteers are needed at the end of the event to remove the kiosks and strike the Lab.
To volunteer email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be sure to specify if you’re interested in Sampling and/or volunteering at the Census Lab…AND if you are available to volunteer before, during, and/or after the event.
Participating in the Black Rock City Census 2012:
Don’t worry … you can still sip a latte in the Center Camp Café as you fill out the paper Census form. Everyone can participate (the more, the merrier!). In addition to the Café, you can find forms and drop boxes at Census kiosks located at Playa Info, Ranger Outpost Berlin at 3:00, Ranger Outpost Tokyo at 9:00, Hushville, the Contraptionists, Sweaty Betty’s, Astral Headwash, HeebeeGeebee Healers, and Kidsville. You can also visit the Census Lab, where we hope to have a few tablets for those who would like to fill out a digital version of the Census. Please fill out one form per person only. And again, your individual responses will remain confidential.
About the Census
The Census is a collaborative research project that Burning Man’s Mistress of Communications Marian Goodell initiated in 2002. The Countess volunteered as manager of the Census in 2004 and has been cultivating the project ever since. Volunteers include professors, students, staff, and researchers from UC Los Angeles, University of Denver, Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Essex, Florida International University, UC Berkeley, University of Victoria, Royal Roads University, and Université du Québec à Montréal. The results are distributed at the Census Lab in Black Rock City, in the AfterBurn report online, and in academic publications. The information is also used by the Burning Man organization to better represent the interests of the people of Black Rock City.
One more thing. The Census Samplers have just launched a blog, which is a great way for you to keep up with exciting developments in the project, and to communicate with other people who might be interested in sampling. See a blog post that interests you? By all means, post a comment!
COUNT ME IN!