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Google’s Skybox Satellites Shoot GIFs Of Burning Man Being Built [Update]


octopus world nrol 39

Google uses Burning Man YET AGAIN to test and promote new commercial products. This time, high resolution space spying technology.

[Update 9/18/14 10:33am]

Burner Doug cleverly observed that this imagery reveals a link to the Sherpagate scandal. There is a glaring discrepancy between what BMOrg said in their printed guide, and what really happened around the dreaded 9-K Safari Section:

Last night my friend dropped off my survival guide that I lent her pre-burn. Just happened to notice the BRC map. It came as a surprise that the areas for registered theme camps in the printed guide does not include the areas of K/L at 3, 4:30, 6, 7:30, and 9. The online map of the city shows the opposite, those last two blocks to be registered. Right where our favorite plug and play was located. Kicker is that the 3, 6 and 9 plazas on K were suppose to be public plazas, where “we hold most of the camping space around these plazas for unregistered camps to develop and maintain as an experiment in spontaneous urban planning and collaboration”. Yeah right. You can see how early they started in this above site of Google spy…


all your bases

Latin translation: “all your base are belong to us”

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Google bought Skybox Imaging for $500 million, and the micro-satellite company’s most recent mission was…to take photos of Burning Man. Skybox repeatedly flew its satellites over Burning Man to create GIFs of how the 70,000 person make-shift hippie city was assembled and then deconstructed over three weeks. For example, above you’ll see the whole city rise and fall, and below you can see the massive “Man” effigy being errected through August, and then the ashy debris on September 1st after it was burnt.

the_man-labeled(2)davidrandall the man

Jokes aside, the GIFs actually prove Skybox’s big advantage over other satellite companies. Since its micro-satellites are much smaller and therefore cheaper, so it can more of them up in space than companies building big, expensive, traditional satellites that power the infrequent updates to products like Google Maps. One of those might have missed the ephemeral Burning Man event entirely.

But since Skybox had both its SkySat-1…

View original 148 more words

DPWBRC: Action Required

When DPW asks me to do something, I usually do it. In this case, it appears to stand for the Department of Psychokinetic Works.

I don’t quite know what’s going on here, but I like it.

Are you a hippie? What does it all mean? Maybe you can’t put a meaning on it. Maybe it’s meaningless.


trans DPW BRC

trans BRC Sacred Schematic MAP 2014To me, it doesn’t seem to fit the city edges as well as this one:

2013 double pentagram

They took heed:

This is a rendition of Black Rock City if point 3 (the top) of the perimeter were placed in proportion to the the city and the man using the golden mean. In this schematic, the temple belongs at the top of the small pentagram and center camp belongs at the center of the flower of life.  These changes would improve the flow of energy in BRC.


2014 Census Results

black rock city censusThe preliminary results are in from the 2014 BlackRock City census. Some key highlights:

  • 62.41% Virgins or Noobz
  • 37.59% Veterans  – up from 29%, reflecting the population surge of the last couple of years, or the discrepancy between counting “number of years since first” and “number of burns”.

The number of kids was 4.1% of the population when we first started raising awareness about the unsuitability of this event for children. Now it’s down to 1.4%. That’s still 1000 kids too many, taking tickets away from sherpas Burners.

Re-blogged from BlackRock City Census:

census centaurThe online survey is now live at http://census.burningman.com and we encourage all 2014 citizens of Black Rock City to complete a survey as soon as possible so that your voices are represented in the 2014 report. Results won’t be ready until after the online instrument closes.

For the burning-data curious, we have some preliminary results for you! For the past 3 events, the Black Rock City Census Lab has randomly sampled entering participants through Gate Road. In addition, for the first time this year, we surveyed riders entering through Burner Express Buses (BxB). From these shorter, demographic surveys we get a baseline demographic profile that helps us weight the online survey. This post is a preliminary insight into the participants who attended the event in 2014 taken from this data.

This post reflects information collected from 1,367 entering participants randomly sampled at Gate Road from Friday pre-event through Wednesday mid-burn and 1,239 riders of BxB entering from Reno and San Francisco from Saturday, pre-event through Wednesday.

Though these results are preliminary, they do provide some new insights into the steady evolution of the event.


70% of Burners are in the highly marketable 20-40 age demographic. 20% are from another country (BMOrg lacks the ability to mail tickets to other countries, so all of these Burners have to go to Will Crawl).

A quarter of Burners are over 40, I wonder what percent of these are in RVs.




The median age this year is between 32 and 33, a little younger than last year.

_0_19 1.41%
_20_29 38.15%
_30_39 33.60%
_40_49 14.18%
_50_or_more 12.66%


What with all the Broners and Next-Gen Tech Gurus, it’s becoming a bit of a sausage fest.



Percentage of women at the event increased another percentage point to 41%

female 41.12%
male 57.99%
fluid 0.89%


“Time Since First Burn” is different from “number of burns”. We define “Veteran” as having been more than twice. Substitute “years” for “burns”, and we have 62.41% noobs, 37.59% Veterans.

Time Since First Burn

Virgin population continues to increase up from 36% two years ago, to nearly 41% of the population in 2014.


virgin 40.69%
_1or2years 21.72%
_3or4years 12.66%
_5to7years 9.90%
_8to11years 6.14%
_12to15years 6.45%
_16or_more 2.44%

Half the Burners are from California. There are as many from Canada, as from Nevada.


Language and Residence

Where do you reside?

California and Nevada residents continue to dominate the event.

NV 6.49%
CA 47.44%
US other 26.57%
Canada 6.12%
Other 13.37%


Foreign residents

After declining from 2012 to 2013, foreign participants rose to 19.5% in 2014.


Supposedly, 6.37% of Burners got their ticket through STEP. At 68,000 paid participants, that would be 4332 tickets. Official numbers are 1500. Of course, not everyone at Burning Man did the census, so this shows you the sort of errors there can be in these statistics, which are simply estimates.

0.68% of people were there without a ticket, this is 476 out of the maximum peak population (including volunteers) of 70,000. Workers like LEOs may have done the survey, feeling they are Burners too.

With 2624 tickets bought for above face value, the Census claim the data shows that scalping is not an issue. Which it never was. About 5% bought tickets from a reseller or stranger. 25% got their tickets from someone known, which is 17,000 people. That’s a lot of Burner to Burner sales going on, did every Burner purchase an extra ticket? There were only 38,000 available in the “individual” sale.


Purchasing your ticket

A vast majority (2/3) purchased their ticket this year from the Burning Man organization either directly or through the STEP program. Nearly 25% purchased their ticket from someone known to them. The growth of STEP coincides with a 50% drop in purchases from Strangers (potential scalpers) when compared with data from 2012. Additionally, 92% obtained their ticket for face value or less. Though the remainder who weren’t lucky enough to receive their ticket this way may feel frustrated, the data indicates that the issue of scalping has been mitigated significantly.


Where did you buy?

BM 60.57%
STEP 6.37%
Someone_known 24.56%
Stranger 3.26%
Reseller 1.46%
IDK 0.56%
No_ticket 0.68%
Other 2.55%

Where did you get your ticket (2012 vs 2014)?

How much did you pay?

Less 6.51%
Facevalue 79.15%
More 3.86%
Gift 6.52%
IDK 0.98%
Other 2.98%

Almost 10% of Burners support “alternative” political parties. Only 4.4% vote Republican. Now we know why Larry was so keen to bring Grover Norquist out, and the PR blitz around it was so strong.



Politically, burners have historically been significantly more likely to vote than the default US population. This year, we again see that 85% of those eligible to vote in US elections actually do. Moreover, a 51% majority voted in at least 3 of the last 4 federal elections, significantly above the US population.

Another interesting fact to note is that, for the first time, US voting participants, when asked about party affiliation, chose “unaffiliated” (nearly 41% of eligible voters) in larger numbers than any other political party, reflecting a broad trend of dissatisfaction with US political parties. The combination of being such a strong voting population and also being unaffiliated may imply that politicians need to pay attention to their Burner voters in their district. This maybe especially wise in Nevada and California where Burners represent a non-trivial portion of their constituencies.

Political Party Affiliation

 Not_eligible 23.27%
 Democratic 30.86%
 Republican 4.40%
 Libertarian 3.74%
 Green 2.36%
American_Ind_Party 1.58%
 Other 1.60%
 Unaffiliated 31.57%
 Multiple 0.62%

1st world problems

Economic Costs of Burning Man in SF

Fortune magazine has shared some data from local San Francisco merchants who use Square. It looks like Burning Man had a substantial negative impact on businesses in SOMA, the Mission, the Marina, Noe Valley, Haight Ashbury, and even The Tenderloin. The absence of Burners was good for business in Pac Heights, Richmond and the Outer Sunset.

From Fortune:

The annual desert celebration is an economic force, but that means something’s got to give elsewhere—namely, San Francisco…

Big events such as concerts, football games, and festivals typically bring a surge of economic activity around their venues. Burning Man, the annual art-nature-tech celebration that drew some 70,000 people to northern Nevada last month, is no different. How big is that impact? According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, the festival last year brought $55 million to the local economy.

That surge in spending came at the expense of some other place, of course. “Burners” hail from all over the country and world, but San Francisco, where the festival was born, is home to the largest concentration. The city is famously empty during that week, and the pilgrimage to the “playa” affects some neighborhoods disproportionately.

Data from Square, the mobile credit card processing company, suggests merchants in the South of Market neighborhood saw as much as a 20% drop in business the week of Burning Man compared to a typical week. The Mission, Noe Valley, Castro, Haight Ashbury, and Cole Valley all saw drops of between 9% and 11%. Potrero Hill was not far behind, with a 7.8% drop. Bucking the trend, commerce was up sharply in the Richmond, a neighborhood popular with families, perhaps due to increased shopping during a the Labor Day weekend.

What do all the neighborhoods that saw drops have in common? They’re on the south side of the city and are home to the majority of tech workers in the Bay Area. No surprise there. Now if someone could only measure the drop in tech productivity that week. Lines of code not written? Deadlines blown?


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