Stanford Lecture: Burning Man at Google

In a lecture at Stanford University on January 14, 2011, Fred Turner (Associate Professor of Communication) discussed his opinions on the social phenomenon of Burning Man and how he thinks the ideals of the festival apply to the marketplace that is evolving in our society, specifically in the Silicon Valley.

It’s a fascinating talk, filled with interesting insights … watch for yourself, and share your thoughts in the comments below:

About the author: Will Chase

Will Chase

Will Chase is Burning Man's former Minister of Propaganda, working on global communications strategy. He was the editor-in-chief for the Jackrabbit Speaks newsletter and the Burning Man Journal, and content manager for Burning Man’s web properties. He also oversaw the ePlaya BBS and Burning Man’s social media presence. Will first attended Burning Man in 2001. He volunteered as the Operations Manager for the ARTery (Black Rock City’s art HQ) and was on the Burning Man Art Council from 2003-2008. He was Web Team Project Manager and Webmaster from 2004 until he transitioned to the Communications Department in 2009.

5 Comments on “Stanford Lecture: Burning Man at Google

  • G says:

    This lecture SO re-connects me with perceptions, realizations, and feelings that I had my first few burns that have just become unconsciously taken for granted in later burns.
    He also offers insights I have never experienced over the course of ten burns.

    Great post, thanks Will.

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  • ted says:

    google execs go to burning man ‘rockin the tivas’ and now the ideals of the festival apply to the evolving tech marketplace. what? it’s supply and demand, folks! always has been and always will be. and ironically, that really sums up the ideals of the festival.

    so a few dot com geeks find burning man many years after it’s been made safe, and they think they’ve discovered something?

    “look folks, we’ve been to burning man, and we discovered there is a system in the universe called ‘supply and demand’ in which goods and services are traded. we call it a ‘marketplace’. and we invented it.”

    or is it that google folks discovered through burning man how to exploit people for free labor? i know they did that with dmoz, so maybe with the help of the borg, they’ve perfected the art of human exploitation.

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  • skibit says:

    LOL, I just saw this video before seeing this post, But was mixed that it was really all about business mirroring the characteristic of the society that is Burningman.

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  • Joe Buchman says:

    He lost me when he said he, “Realized (he) couldn’t take his kids . . .”

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  • Mojori says:

    Did he just refer to Burning Man (via the BMORG) as a “firm?” Why yes, yes he did. (33:14)

    In fact, this entire video functions, in many ways, as little more than an attempt at slapping a legitimizing patina of “hipster coolness” on one of the most bleeding edges of modern capitalism – the Bay Area tech industry.

    Hmm, viewing Burning Man through a corporate lens: not my preferred perspective on something I’ve always seen as fundamentally counter-cultural in character. Perhaps my lenses have been rose tinted.

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