Connectivity Vs. Immediacy

[This post is part of the 10 Principles blog series, an ongoing exploration of the history, philosophy and dynamics of Burning Man’s 10 Principles in Black Rock City and around the world. We welcome your voice in the conversation.]

“This will never fit into a Twitter update.”

Ten years ago I saw a guy dressed like a stockbroker walking along the Esplanade. He was wearing a dust-covered suit and tie, yelling into a cell phone, “Sell, I said! SELL!!!!” It was cute.

Last year I saw quite a few people checking cell phones at Center Camp throughout the week. It was not cute.

Over the years, cell phone & internet access has become more and more accessible at Burning Man – and I think it is a shame. Do I have any right to dictate how someone behaves or “Radically Expresses” themselves? Nope. But I think the Playa’s rare gift of “Immediacy” is in jeopardy.

I was asked about my thoughts this week and clarified my frustration in the video below.


These views are solely the views of Halcyon and do not represent the opinions of The Burning Man Organization or Major League Baseball.

About the author: John "Halcyon" Styn


Halcyon is a 21-year Burning Man participant and co-founder of Pink Heart camp. He is author of "Love more. Fear less." and producer of the Burning Man short film, "The Pink Path." He's won Webby awards for his over-the-top personal site & his "Love On Demand" video podcast Halcyon co-founded the San Diego based "1st Saturdays" homeless outreach program based on Burning Man Principles and coaches people how to be radically self expressed in the default world. You can find his full Playa Tips & Tricks series at

59 Comments on “Connectivity Vs. Immediacy

  • simon of the playa says:

    seriously, if you’re gonna post to facebook, do it in the porta potties where it can’t be seen.

    i was getting 4 bars in the ones at the 2:00 corner, FYI…FFR

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  • BurnJam says:

    We should all do our part as theme camps and allot some dues money to purchase camp cell phone jammers. For 300 dollars a camp we can jam a good portion of the space around us. If enough camps gift jamming, we can take back immediacy. Please consider this in you camp budget this year.

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  • Burnkitty says:

    I’m with Halcyon on this one. I hate cell phones on the playa. And it bugs me that apps are being created for use on the playa and thus further encouraging people to use cell phones on the playa.

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  • Liz says:

    I agree that the technical limitations are a huge gift. The ability to tell my office, and my parents that I would be out of touch and to actually be, was amazing.

    I was just as thrilled to be able to make a 1 minute phone call early in the morning every other day to ease their mind and mine. I was able to enjoy my burn without guilt.

    I’m not sure about the “stations” though. I like it done in private. It’s bringing an atom of of the default world to the playa. Spread out and hidden they burst like sparks and die. Group them together and you run a risk of the fire spreading.

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  • Great point, Liz. (and Simon.) Maybe cell phone use should be treated exactly as a bowel movement – If needed, to be done in private.

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  • G says:

    Things change, and oh well.

    I am not sure when, but it seems like three or maybe four years ago when higher-quality cell service became available at BlackRock, I noticed the transition. All of a sudden there were people out at BRC talking about what’s going on with their friends back home, and what’s going on there, and anything but “here in BRC”.
    Burning Man is my retreat from the world for my two weeks there. No cars no computers no money no television no telephones, no running water I totally seal out the default world.
    In a very real sense the place was a refuge.

    The cell service there has clearly disrupted that.

    In recent years I actually resorted to directly asking people to just not share what’s going on in the default world with me.

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  • chiina says:

    The immediacy element within Burning Man is sometimes difficult concept to get your head around. Connectivity on the playa is certainly something to deal with and try to understand and mitigate or help modify. The main thing I’ve realized is that the modern Burner is a total douche and doesn’t give a shit about dick. So who cares either way? Not me. Pave the playa, it would be easier that way.

    I love you guys.

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  • Nick says:

    I can either not attend, or I can take my iPad to wherever I can get wifi for 30 minutes every other day to keep work happy since my job doesn’t really allow me to just disappear for the duration of the event. I’ve been heckled and bitched at more than once even though I’m in the most isolated place I can find, THAT goes against MY thoughts on Burning Man entirely.

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  • Harinama says:

    Those who choose to use electronics on the playa are taking a risk of ruining their equipment and alienating fellow citizens who choose to be e-free for the week. It goes without saying that most brc citizens would prefer not to communicate with the outside world during the event.

    Electronic media is ubiquitous with modern day culture, and indeed is represented in many art installations on the playa. There are many valid reasons why someone may need to maintain communication with the outside world.

    Maybe we should provide small secluded areas near hotspots (with limited range) to keep it out of sight and so users can partake of it without derision.

    Maybe citizens can be less snarky because Nick needs to keep his job, or Mary needs to check on her child. Also, maybe e-media users can be a bit more discreet if they have additional hideaways.

    This issue will only grow, BRC needs to plan for it.

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  • Neal says:

    There are plenty of sensible and even urgent reasons why connectivity can be important, even on Playa, because life is complicated. Yet, we don’t want Burning Man to lose its unique off the grid character and immediacy. So, yes, provide for connectivity refuges that makes it available but not ubiquitously, in deference to the overarching non-default world Burn experience.

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  • mark says:

    I think that the gift of “immediate experience” at Burning Man has long ago given way to a spring break vibe, and the increasing use of cell phones, the printed entertainment guide, and the sobering number of joggers
    spotted in recent years all point to an inevitable watering-down of the event.

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    • cecilia w. says:

      ques. Im trying to get of someone at burning man for yr 2015. Does this event the 7th or what. Been trying to get hold of him, goes to voicemail everytime any suggestion. i be here im at library dont have a comp at home till 2pm . havent heard from him since sun. Im worried that is does this event go to the 7th of sept.

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  • Starstuff says:

    Once the gates open, my phone service is turned off. I do carry my phone, because I use it as my principle camera, as well as music on the art car. So I’m using a device, but not as a phone.

    I feel like phones and internet in Center Camp (“Starbucks”) are OK, because it’s Center Camp and not the rest of the playa. There are plenty of valid reasons why someone may need to be connected.

    This past year, our entire early arrival group got to the gates at the same time. We had left days apart, from different areas of the country, and were magically all in line next to each other. There was no way that could be coordinated, and it was a perfect instance of playa serendipity trumping any telecommunication technology.

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  • Starstuff says:

    Also, that picture with the laptop (and funny caption) is probably of some very tired Burners trying to fix the programming on the art project they’ve been working on for 20 hours straight. Been there.

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  • @Starstuff – Indeed! Those were campmates who were absolutely Participating when that pic was taken. I just love the photo. :)

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  • Cold Kris from the Trash Fence says:

    Agree with starstuff on the picture (especially since it looks like the laptop is sitting on a generator–probably the one that powers the art in question).

    Outside of that, I really like setting my email autoresponder before I go to say “If it’s really urgent that you contact me, you can call the org, have them dispatch a ranger to find me; this is roughly where my camp is, and what it’s called, and what it looks like, and I’ve left a notepad and pencil on the front of my tent in case I’m not there when they show up, so they should leave a message. If I agree that it’s urgent, I can probably be back in touch with you within 24 hours”

    Oh, and I’m not too sympathetic to the “have to check up on my kid” excuse for cellphoning on playa. I have a kid too; she comes to the playa with me; problem solved.

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  • MarXaoS says:

    I like the idea of people using their phones to stay connected and keep up with the news…of who and what’s happening on the playa. Tweets and txt about doin’s are great opportunities for hoaxing pranking and joking. I plan to keep my mobile locked in the car, as usual. What other people do, I don’t give a shit, as usual. Everyone gets to make their own version of “immediacy”.

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  • Sammy says:

    You know this year with the whole being texted while on playa thing, I have to say that I hated it. I hated that some texts were coming through. I hated that I was contactable. I hated that I saw people texting and the like. One of the main things that I LOVE about being on playa is that is truly is an oasis and the whole option of still being reachable or being texted really bothers me and takes me away from where I am being in the present. I also like that to hook up with friends it is an effort, no at all easy, not at all lazy. It takes getting costumed on time, fed on time and there on time (or close) and that is an effort that is so fun. Plus, I think newbies are already lazy and need a little bit of a challenge on being there, being part of the party and things just not being super easy….. So, there’s my two cents.

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  • Issimo says:

    Halcyon is spot on. Although I try to embrace what I see on the playa I’m not happy about it turning into continued scenes from “Clueless”.

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  • So very true! Cell phones drive me nuts, as I am on a technology vacation out there. You should be too. Be present. In the moment. Magic is happening. Texting or calling someone in the middle of it all takes away the immediacy of the experience. Stop your addiction to the machine!

    Besides, the Neverwas Haul only uses a bell and a horn for communication.

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  • Imaslydog says:

    You’re kidding, right? Turn it off…..

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  • KMEC says:

    A- F’ing- Men to that Jon!

    Thank you for articulating so well what I have been thinking since W-Fi reared its ugly head in BRC.

    I made a badge years ago that said ” Wi-Fi Killed the Man”.
    Sadly, I believe it is the truth in progress.

    Be here. Be now.

    A primary function of BM is to provide an exit portal from the Default World. What a gift! Why give up to opportunity to experience and participate in an entirely different planet?

    But, that genie is NOT going back into the box, I guess. So the BM experience will mutate as all living organisms do. R.I.P. B.M “Classic”.

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  • johnnyforeigner says:

    Next year’s greatest piece of art: Phone signal jamming tower.

    Three questions:

    1. Is this possible?
    2. What are the ethics?
    3. Who’s up for helping me?

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  • CrAyOn says:

    Raaawwwrrrr!!! Times a’ changin R@giN!!
    ‘I remember when we had to walk to center camp in a dust storm both ways and if you wanted a porto-potty you used a 5-gal bucket!!’

    Look, Burning man culture itself is something emergent. The use of technology in our default culture is likewise. Inexpensive, durable, and available technology enables so much of what happens on the playa that it’s an inevitability its use will weave its way into the fabric of our culture too. I look forward to seeing that happen; and digital wireless communication – for art, for group communications, and the way it loops back to influence its creators – will all be an important part of that process.

    The real challenge is how we, as individuals, choose to use it. Some asshole in a suit yelling into a Moto-Brick Sell Sell Sell! is indeed the type of cherished gig we all appreciate. A real asshole, bringing real asshole drama to the playa is never appreciated regardless of how they use technology to do it.

    It’s the people, not the product.

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  • Rasika says:

    think about this, lovers…

    in 2009, i arrived to the playa a virgin, w my 8x returning )|( vet boyfriend.

    from day ONE, we began to experience synchronicities in a sea of 30,000+ people –
    we stood at the foot of the man checking him out, thinking of friend x and friend y, and when we turned to the left, there they were STANDING RIGHT THERE.

    later in the week, this kept happening. we didn’t KNOW where people were, just their general camps. we sought out with a spirit of adventure everyday. and the “happen upon” thing KEPT happening. as if the people we thought about would LITERALLY MANIFEST themselves in front of us.

    by weeks end, there was one other virgin friend greg we were eager to see, and after the miraculous timing of my saying “YES” to my bf proposing to me, with the immediate reaction of the about-to-burning-man FIREWORKS EXPLOSION (synchronicity.), the man burned, we joined the wild tribal circle, a melee if you will, and who was holding my hand in this circle of chaos when i looked, but none other than our friend greg. how did this happen? creation.

    it happened with my birthday. it happened with strangers. it happened with mom camp, and finding letucia after giving up, seeing her come at us from out of the dust. it happened over and over and over again. the things we sought in thought, found us or we found them.

    and i TRULY believe that because we were on playa land where everyone was VIBRATING at the same level, from heart connection, we didn’t need no stinking cell phones. we didn’t need em.

    stay open to that possibility of connectedness. because what happens on that playa will have you believe in magic.

    give it a chance. <3

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  • dan glass says:

    Ha! Ten years ago, briefcase, cell phone, okay, could’ve been someone else. Yelling “SELL, SELL! (and ‘Fire that asshole!’, blah blah) — that was me. Yet another example of the playa as a nexus of coincidence.

    I thought it was funny because it was so out of context. Though some guy actually came up to me and asked what I was doing there, so I told him I was there to see what the kids were doing these days, trying to keep my finger on the pulse of the market. Astoundingly, he believed me, and was outraged. Which of course made it much funnier.

    He took himself too seriously, but I appreciated the defending response. Immediacy is still one of the ten principles, but no one talks about it that much. It used to be forced upon us by the environment of the playa, and for a lot of folks it took exposure to “here now” without options to appreciate it. But there is a great deal to be learned from “immediacy,” probably the hardest of the principles to define. If you lost your friends, you explored on your own and made new ones, or devised creative ways of locating each other with calls or blinky. Exploration outside of a comfort zone or friend-bonding activity – both of these are great things.

    Since a short ten years ago, the default world (within which Burning Man takes place) has assumed more connectivity, and fully participating people are starting to be more bound more to it. But others have been bound in the past too, and they either had to prepare more, or go into town to use the pay phone, or some other inconvenient thing. It was part of each person’s individual experience of how he/she dealt with the playa.

    For some, the heat requires solutions – but there’s a difference between a personal misting setup and toting around a generator and AC-equipped enclosure. The difficulty of going to Burning Man isn’t just a charming little aspect; it is where many of our lessons lie.

    The event should not accommodate for these difficulties (official connectivity in the cafe I think is a terrible idea- ruined whatever was nice about center camp), but official “enforcement” would be too intrusive, compared to that of vending or bringing animals. Individual creativity in dealing with one’s issue of contacting the outside world is the answer. If someone wants to make “Comm Camp” for those who have a need to call a sick loved one, keep their job, or tweet their blue genitals, fine. If people want to heckle that camp with megaphones, fine. If someone wants to make a call from atop an art car, fine. If the crew wants to kick that person off, fine.

    Like many of the principles, they are enforced by the community itself. Litter, and everyone will be up your ass in a second. Keep relying on your crew members for things you should handle yourself, they will criticize you or stop helping. Seems to be most folks don’t like phones on the playa. Makes sense. Keep it hidden if you’re going to make use of available reception or suffer the heckling. That way, it won’t bother anyone else, and only you will be the one to get less from your experience, or be able to watch the man burn and tell your mom you love her, then emerge all sweaty from under your purple fur and go back to being present and unaccounted for.

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  • Flyer says:

    Burning Man is the ultimate vacation, let’s not spoil that with cell phones.

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  • Mayhem says:

    One of the reasons I go to BurningMan is to get away from my cell phone, email and internet. I find my Zen when I am not connected to the outside world.

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  • Charlyn Parker says:

    To each his own. Why do some judge what the others do? Go have some fun and enjoy your space. My space ends where your nose begins and visa versa. I don’t walk around judging whether you are meeting my expectations and I don’t think you should spend so much time focused on me. Besides I have saved a lot of pain by finding my friends before I leave. I don’t use my electronic stuff needlessly but as an adult I do use it as needed. Thank you all for voicing your personal view. Judge not lest ye be judged.

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  • Gerflash says:

    In the general case, I agree strongly, especially from the loss of Immediacy in the default world from the advent of the cell phone and texting. Cell phones were prophetically named since they put every carrier of one into a CELL and away from the people around them.

    However, it seems to me that equating the use of a cell phone to be “…checking in with a spouse, child, or medical condition” (or some other emergency) as “poison” is a stretch to the breaking point. Let’s not paint each other with too broad a brush, okay?

    Some years ago at BRC, I lost my car keys, and without my cell phone connection to my spouse, I and my riders would have been in dire straits. Just a couple minutes of connectivity (and three days of waiting for “overnite delivery” of new keys!) made the difference between pass and fail on the Playa.

    I carried my phone in the “off” position, and checked it once per evening. My email was just plain off. But that much slack – I really needed, and would have been more than bummed if you’d attack me or anyone with a water gun.

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  • @Gerflash – Agreed. And I cringed when I heard myself use the word “poison,” as well. It is an individual choice with plenty of valid reasons. I’d just prefer the things that anchor me to the default world to be out of sight, when possible.

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  • Some Seeing Eye says:

    I think it’s a generational value. If you are offended by someone using a personal communication device, that’s something that is inside you. Personally I’m offended by megaphones. So what? The event changes with people and time. And it has had a long interaction with the tech world, where people want to experiment with radio. Just waiting to hear drones are banned…

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  • M says:

    One year, my fourth or fifth, there was this “Rave Camp” out in deep playa…

    And now. Hmm.

    Evolution is.

    Now, if you want to play … build a wifi scrambler and knock out the connection, or hack their phone call and text their mom…

    Or don’t. Just remember as your reaction to someone elses action illicites a strong emotion, that emotion is yours alone.

    And I do still feel sad at the loss of a dangerous, unlit playa where personal responsibility meant something and if you died nobody sued anyone… and thats my issue. What will the playa look like when my kids are building solar powered flame throwing robot wars via their cellphones? It will be intetesting to see.

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  • Noobieish says:

    Last year was my First burn (yeah yeah yeah) and I did not carry my cellphone anywhere with me. Funny thing was for at least 3 or 4 days i kept feeling phantom buzzing in my pocket area and would enstinctively pat my thighs to see if someone was txting/calling. Wierd. At any rate there is apparently a little cell phone service at BM which I was under the impression there was not. I think I am going to continue to tell all friends and family tht there just isnt’t service out there. Don’t call me becuse you just won’t get through. Once upon a time when people had landlines and you called them, if they werent home you would just leave a message. They could be gone on vacation for 2 weeks and you would have no idea. You would just leave a message and not freaking worry about it until you heard back from them. People worry about each other way to much with the advent of cellphones. Ok i am just rambling. Burning Man was once off the grid, it’s not so much anymore. And it will continue to be more and more “on the grid”. Thats just the way it is I suppose. Like it or Lump it, change happens.

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  • Incendra Luminaria says:

    ah the dialogue. Out HERE- it is your gift that you -all- respond with heart to the heart of Halcyon. Being a prehistoric technological who-gives-a fuck…. er- I love the total absence of the default world. I love the tribal communications with face and smile and grin and chuckle and tear and drum and fire and shy and nod. AND- it is okay that for a week- I am off grid even to my precious family et all else out there. Part of the thrill and edgyness…. waiting for the day of resurfacing……….makes it not so hard to go back. AND- that be me- incendra…. my-ness. For your-ness- consider just standing on the ice and believe it is not going to crack. IF at all possible, let yourself get out there away from the shore. (teeheehee- surely I could have thought of a better analogy for the Black Rock Desert- ) I, for one, won’t heckle. And I will never show up with a cell phone :) PS- what a lovely voice you have Halcyon. Thank you. And to everyone else for taking considered time… all love

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  • KrysP says:

    Technology doesn’t always come with etiquette installed. Perhaps, there’s an app for that.

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  • Paul "BiG PHREEKY!" Neumann says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE that I am cut off from the Default world!!
    THEE Moment I take that right hand turn onto the Playa, the phone gets turned OFF and put into the glove box!! PEACE for 12 days!! (and so does Wifey and She’s a “Corporate Normie” !!)

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  • MetaKim says:

    It’s not just the joy of being cut off from the outside world. It’s also the joy of uncertainty.

    In the default world, if I find myself with a vague wonder about what the third line of that song is or whether that party is any good or whether I should try that restaurant, nanoseconds later I’m getting data from my smartphone – google, yelp, text my buddies. Two stars – let’s skip it.

    On the playa, I can’t instantly find out what’s going on or what everyone else thinks. I have to go see for myself, or else live with the mystery. And it’s magical. Humanizing. Connective.

    You wanna know how the party is? Go find it and decide for yourself. Should you eat that thing? I dunno, why don’t you try some? What’s the third line of that song? Hm, what does it sound like? So you end up singing a hilariously wrong thing and then you have a story, a memory.

    Some of my best nights on the playa happened while searching for something, something that would have been trivially easy to locate if we all had working smartphones. Instead we get to savor the surprise, the synchronicity, the journey to find it. That made it even better than we hoped.

    I don’t mind if people check in with work. I do mind the playa becoming as data driven as the default world. I want to know there’s one place on earth where things unfold without advance expectations, where I can live into the mystery.

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  • Carla says:

    I have a radical suggestion. Isn’t it entirely possible to BLOCK cell phone reception in a localized area, without direct administrative access to cell towers? I think it is, and I’m certain that there’s a savy burner out there who knows how to do it.

    When we buy a ticket to burning man we’re signing up for an experience like no other. And we’re also accepting a large set of risks and dangers along with that privilege. Why can’t we also choose to enter a cell phone access-free bubble? Enable override or mobile-access safe havens for emergency responders, but overall why not think about ways to make being DISCONNECTED part of the “radical” experience that you sign up for?

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  • curious cat says:

    Thank you Halcyon for presenting this topic, I don’t own one and have an answering machine for people to contact me. It’s a slippery slope, lets discourage people from bringing them to playa. I got my ticket yesterday. I love you Halcyon and will look for you this year to give you a hug.

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  • Kendrick says:

    there is no service. i will continue to believe this. i will continue to get up and walk away when someone has their phone in front of me or ignore them and talk to the topless blonde to the right. It’s just always sad some thwanger with a bucket list had to suck up a ticket instead of a 20 year vet getting one gifted from a friend who wants to drag their jaded rear out there for all of us.

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  • I largely agree with John. Be present.

    I would argue that cell phones, the machines themselves, aren’t the problem. Think of the amazing art machines on the playa: all the art cars, and the stationary art built from machines! Starstuff describes a great example of how cell phones can be and are being used as art machines.

    I would argue that the problem is that the cell phone is connected to a default world network, which is what makes the default world phone number work, and what gets internet into the phone and make those convenient apps work.

    Rather than being reachable by the default world I either leave my default world phone switched off while I am on playa, or I repurpose it to be a playa phone by swapping out the little SIM card, which is what actually ties my number to my phone. (I know that at least one network in the US uses phones without a SIM card though, those can not be repurposed.)

    I am fortunate to be participating in a theme camp that builds our own small cell phone network on the playa, gifting service only on-playa to fellow burners. When my phone is connected to our on-playa network my default world number is not reachable. Everyone who wants to use our network chooses their own number. In the default world my phone appears unreachable, it’s as if I am not there. My phone is only in the playa network. I can actually call to the default world should I need to, but only for a limited time, and if I do then the person I called can only call me back within the next 30 minutes. The default world can’t call me directly.

    I sincerely agree and celebrate that the playa offers abundant and rare opportunity for immediacy. Why bother with a cell phone or a computer – less immediacy – at all, even if it’s to connect with someone across the playa? Well, I enjoy very much to go off on my own, to participate in the city and with it’s citizens, but at the same time I appreciate to still be reachable by my group (hint: that’s you!) if they want to reach out to me. Technology can sometimes allow participation across a distance, but more importantly it allows to communicate across a distance, so that I can know when and where to participate in something particular.

    Is there risk that technology which we are used to from the default world even though repurposed for the playa still makes us fall into default world patterns, makes us stay too close to our group, too close to what we know, that it makes us too fragmented or makes us miss opportunities for immediacy with nearby humans, and adventure by accident? Certainly. Just like I would have given and taken away a different experience if I had not participated in our camp but had come to Black Rock City in a single-person tent and gifted hugs. But at the same time I trust myself to not let some stupid machine get in the way of me venturing out and participating outside of camp, or even creating opportunities for accidental adventure. If I didn’t have the repurposed playa cell phone in our on-playa network I wouldn’t stay less in our camp – in fact, probably slightly more…

    Several large groups on the playa have access to communication. There are ham radio enthusiasts, rangers, and so on. I believe that access to efficient communication empowers those groups in many ways. I believe that the same applies to the largest group of all – everyone on the playa – and I think it’s a good thing that everyone has access to communication. Of course communication must be used respectfully with regard to the surroundings, just like you don’t talk to the person sitting next to you when you are at the movies. And of course someone who just wants to participate in social media on the internet doesn’t really need to travel into the desert to do that at Center Camp.

    I am fairly easily distracted by shiny things, I could easily spend life hopping from one to the next. A machine under my control is less easily distracted, so another way for it to be useful is to remind me of particular shiny things or particular shiny people that I know of in advance, and allow me to make more conscious choices. I don’t think that impurifies my participation. As always, I rely on my self to make those accidental adventures possible.

    Finally – The fact that a cell phone rings doesn’t mean that it must be answered. Try setting your phone to silent and not checking it for a day or two. You can disconnect in the default world. It is just as lovely as on the playa! :)

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  • @Peter – “I would argue that the problem is that the cell phone is connected to a default world network…” Great point. I hadn’t thought much of a BRC-only network. Very fun idea! Still requires discipline to stay in the now, but a very different situation. Cool!

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  • “Still requires discipline to stay in the now” So true!

    “very different situation” Yes and no – If I’m in the middle of something it doesn’t matter who is calling me; a noisy call from my friend at camp and a noisy call from my colleague at the office do equal damage. The big difference is that keeping a playa phone on silent or vibrate is easy, because my friend at camp knows that if I don’t answer then I am busy being present somewhere and maybe I will call back later or maybe I will just show up for dinner with a new hat, a big smile, and a story of an adventure.

    If I take a potentially annoying machine to BRC then it is my duty to master it, to make sure that it does not annoy! (Generator, PA, drum machine, even a darktard person…) If I fail then I deserve to be informed that I suck, by way of water gun or otherwise!

    It is rare for us to truly master our machines, some may have forgotten – or may never have known – that we actually can. Especially more complex machines like computers, smartphones or cell phone networks. It’s easier to ban machines and have countermeasures than to accept their challenge, but I for one don’t like giving up so easily just because some people have bad machine manners.

    Thanks for a great post!

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  • Penrose says:

    A problem is we do tend to project our desire for isolation from the default word onto others, some of whom are just being social idiots, but some of whom have very real real-world issues to deal with.

    It is truly arrogant to take the position that since you brought your child, no one else needs to call theirs that was left at home.

    But when someone uses a connectivity device (phone, tablet, laptop), it seems as though they have broken the trust we all come to BMan to share, trust in one another and in our immediate resources. Suddenly here’s someone who doesn’t need us, doesn’t want us, is just here either to tweet better stuff than his friends, or refuses to join us in the mutual self-reliance that disconnection requires. Using cell phones is like dressing in your regular hiking clothes: It is a passive and public rejection of the rest of us and why we are there.

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  • @Penrose – “Using cell phones is like dressing in your regular hiking clothes: It is a passive and public rejection of the rest of us and why we are there.”


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  • Liz says:

    Gonna disagree with the hiking clothes statement.

    Some people don’t like to go naked or put on a tutu and bunny ears. If you read rejection into a dusty guy or gal in cargo shorts, sensible boots and a hat, then that’s your problem, not theirs. Though I’d argue there is definitely Burning Man fashion, I’d hate for there to be a Burning Man uniform.

    Self Expression, Radical inclusion, Self Reliance. None of the 10 principles mention anything about clothing. Some people are not sparkly unicorns in a furry corset on the inside. Some are down to earth carpenters, welders, and mechanics, cooks who make some of your favorite projects happen. I’d rather have a sensibly dressed person any day than a girl in hot pants and feathers (fucking feathers everywhere) crashed on your couch who can’t remember where they are camped.

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  • dirtwheel says:

    Well……What about a sensibly dressed hiking electrician in hot pants and feathers crashed on a couch who can’t remember why they forgot where they are camped. Lets stop spitting hairs and agree… Cell phones suck in the default world and they equally suck on the playa. Being present is the most you could ever do for yourself. Your state of mind should always come first. NOT being distracted from the present moment via electronic wave or future/past thoughts on a consistant basis for long periods of time, should do the trick. Give it a try. T-196

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  • @Liz – You are right. I guess what I was thinking was: There is nothing wrong with making a choice to use a cell phone or wear default world street clothes. There are tons of valid reasons. But it is easy for some of us to project our desire to be free from those reminders.

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  • Bob says:

    You can’t stop progress. But you can plan for it. Set aside hot spots for those that need to stay connected for work, emergencies, check on things back in default world etc. Please never allow it to be as pervasive in BRC as it is in other major cities. I like speaking, and participating with others that have left the default behind and are ready to engage and create in spontaneous new-ness without the anchor of connectivity.

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  • curlene aka squirt says:

    oh yesireee…cellular-cidis… is the man’s terminal illness. a slow one…anyone ever really really step inside the man’s domain and really just stare at him and then just feel so sad how he’s all stuck waaay up there where we cant touch him anymore and then get all watery eyed?

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  • Frank Tyneski says:

    I come to BM to escape my always on, always connected world. I actually feel naked without instant access to everything important and meaningless alike. But I also believe that technology has crowded time for introspection. The Playa is a place where my deepest thoughts and brightest hopes can manifest without tech interruptions. The absence of a wireless connection forces time for soulful reflection. Not being connected to my global network of friends and colleagues makes me feel small in the universe. It grounds me to the time and space we’re in. Not being connected allows me to enjoy the friends who committed themselves to this experience and it encourages me to make meaningful connections to strangers in the BM community. All said, I do think it’s important to have an outpost for reaching out to family – and work if absolutely necessary. Some wireless access should be available – but only in a designated area that’s far away from the core.
    Ironically, I design computers and mobile devices for a living.
    Frank – Austin Texas

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  • joe says:

    I feel ya. I hear ya. It’s change. It’s OK.

    PS: When you squirt me please hit me in the face. My cell is also my camera and it will probably be encased in plastic.

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  • manerud says:

    i even think the selling of coffee at center camp degrades BM for everyone. Seriously, can’t people boil water and make a cup of coffee. Or find someone to gift it. I never go to CC b/c I think it is opposite to where you’re supposed to be at BM. Phones should not be seen or heard IMO. Where is the original concept of “survival” in cell phone use. There is a reason BRDesert is the home of BM. Please BM leaders make a proclamation of no visible cell phone use and encourage non use. Thanks for starting the convo.

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  • aplayapal says:

    If you require internet connectivity to get tickets, you get more people who value internet connections coming to burning man, and discourage those who do not.
    If you required mail order purchases with an actual stamped envelope with a hand drawn piece of art on the outside (like prison art envelopes) to get tickets, you might get more people who are sketch friendly, and would probably interfere with “scalping” more than the current method of ticket sales geared towards relatively anonymous e-purchases.
    If you required a short essay (like the low income ticket program) you might get more writers or more verbally expressive participants, and, again, discourage scalping.
    The choices made by BM mangement as to how people can get in affects who gets in. They may be making these choices without being aware of the affect on people less rich than themselves (let them eat cake) or be doing it intentionally to exclude the “uncool” (Abercrombie&Fitch’s “no XL women’s sizes”). BM is evolving as it grows, adapting in ways that might not have been forseen: plug and play; more cops per capita than any other town in Nevada; pay to play crowdfunding campaigns; commercial photo shoots. If issues arising from those adaptations are not addressed, as were uncontrolled vehicle access, overloud art cars at the temple, and firearms, they are, in effect, allowed to occur.
    Buying tickets, for cash, at a store in Reno led to meeting other participants offplaya, sharing plans and hopeful ideas at the cash register. I don’t get that now, waiting in an electronic queue.

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  • Lazy boy says:

    They are the ones missing out. Not I. Keep the now rolling onward.

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  • maia says:

    Is it possible to text my boyfriend from burning man?? :)

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  • Dave says:

    As soon as you try to impose your belief system on others, you are a tool and part of the system I’m trying to escape from on playa. If you don’t want to use a cell phone, awesome, don’t use one. If you want to use one in a respectful manner, have at it.

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