Groupthink Wants to Harvest Your Brain to Feed Zombies

“A camel is a horse designed by a committee” – Sir Alec Issigonis.

Sadly, I’m not making the title of this post up.

Many Burners were negatively impacted by last year’s ticket fiasco. How seriously does the BMOrg take it? Seriously enough to have a meeting about it, and invite “game theorists, theme camp leaders, artists, volunteers, families, senior staff, and ticket industry experts

Oh goodie. No-one from the tech industry then. Well, I guess it’s hard to find them in San Francisco. [/sarcasm]

And what did this amazing meeting of the minds achieve? An innovative solution to the ticket crisis perhaps? Or, even, “ask the community“? They don’t even have to ask, the community is already telling them loud and clear and have been for some time. Link tickets to ID’s. But, I’m getting ahead of myself…we’ll have a poll at the end. In the meantime, back to the BMOrg:

By the time we were done, our brains were literally gone, eaten from our heads by zombies. In case you didn’t realize it, Burning Man ticketing is HARD.

Now that Burning Man tickets can be expected to sell out each year, we need new, creative solutions to address the challenges of ticketing. Burners are smart people, by and large, so the organization figures we’re the right people to ask.

artwork by Ben Jennings

That’s who BMOrg figures they should ask. This guy’s not speaking metaphorically, he makes it quite clear to us that he is speaking literally. Zombies actually ate the brains so much that he was out of his head. That’s how hard Burning Man ticketing is to these people. They don’t actually ask Burners, they ask the random mismatched cross-sectional anonymous motley crew of people who they invited to this Bilderberg-like closed door meeting where they were discussing – nay, deciding on – one of the most important issues to our community and its future.

Before anyone else hooks their brain up to this zombie matrix of mind-numbing groupthink and indecision, let’s see if we can wake a few people up from their trance.

#1. Burning Man was not even sold out this year. There were literally thousands of tickets floating around at the end. Attendance was DOWN on last year, even though the Bureau of Land Management kindly agreed to a special permit with 10,000 more tickets, despite their slap on the wrist for Burning Man exceeding their population cap (and crowing about it on Wikipedia and their web site). The attendance drop can be attributed to all the BMOrg’s efforts to squeeze old timers out in their so-called “random lottery” and attract newbies going to waste, when the n00bz left early unable to handle the (really not unusual) amount of dust.

#2. Burning Man is not that big of an event. Music events in Australia much larger than this sell out in minutes. I mean, an artist like Kylie Minogue pulls WAY bigger crowds than Burning Man. And everyone survives. The events where there have been scalper problems, link ID to tickets. This is true for Glastonbury, the Oscars, and many festivals all over the world. Coachella and EDC Vegas are more than 5 times the size of Burning Man. What is so special about Burning Man, that only Burning Man has these problems? I can’t see anything in the party, the only thing I can point to is the BMOrg, and this “let’s ask game theorists and volunteers and artists and families” decision making process. Why do they need game theorists? Is this a game to them? Is someone trying to game the system, or game the Burners? And no offense to artists, but most of them struggle to sell their own works, what do they know about selling 60,000 tickets over the Internet? Decisions require dictatorship, and leadership – radical inclusion will get you everyone’s opinions, but that only makes decisions harder. If you can’t make a decision, then ask the community, get them to vote, let them decide for you.

#3. If Gifting is an issue, then allow tickets to be gifted, allow names to be changed, but charge a $100 donation to BRAF or the Burning Man Project. I can’t see that this would impede gifting, but it would certainly deter scalpers.

#4. The old system used to work fine. Why fix what ain’t broke? Any time you see change apparently just for the sake of change, you should wonder if there is a hidden agenda. So what if the event sold out by July? The only reason to change appears to be lining the pockets of whoever got the early tickets. Did insiders get hundreds of free tickets, and sell them on the secondary market for thousands of dollars each? What other motivation is there for this weird special system they want?

#5. Forget low income tickets and tiered pricing. People with no money can easily find work as volunteers on art projects, in exchange for tickets, room and board, and other forms of compensation. Just charge one price for everybody. Maybe even a VIP price if you want to camp in certain areas, or have a say in your camp placement.

Do you really think the future of Burning Man should lie in the hands of people who “literally had their brains eaten by zombies”, trying to figure out an issue as simple as ticketing? I mean, I know some real ticketing experts, all in tech in San Francisco, I wonder who BMOrg’s ones were. The three guys I’m thinking of would not be even slightly affected like that from a discussion about “how do we sell tickets at Burning Man“? Sorry but that is a trivial problem for ticketing experts. I don’t even need to consult them, to me it’s simple, do it the same way Coachella does it. That’s the biggest event, so if they can figure it out, we can too. But, let’s ask the community, what do you think Burners?

18 comments on “Groupthink Wants to Harvest Your Brain to Feed Zombies

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  9. #1. Just because the peak population was less than before, doesn’t mean that the peak attendance was less. More people arrived and then left early. Some Gate folk were reporting almost as many cars leaving on Thursday as coming in. So, there might have been 60,000 people total who attended at various times, but only a max of 42,000 at any one time.

    #2. The game theory approach is an attempt to take into account the various psychological aspects of the ticket buying process (e.g., people trying to ‘stock up’ because they are afraid of scarcity).

    #3. I can’t really comment on this other than to say that it assumes there’s going to be some kind of system for attaching names to tickets and make them non-transferable (or transferable with a fee as you’re suggesting). All I can say is that that seemingly simple suggestion is going to add a lot of new logistical elements to the process, so might not be as smooth of a transition as you’re imagining.

    #4. It’s not just change for the sake of change. The nature of the event has changed because there are more people who want to participate.

    #5. This is the most obnoxiously stupid suggestion. As if low income participants were the ones messing everything up. As it turned out, it was people with a lot of extra money who were able to buy extra “just in case” tickets who caused the problem — not the low income people, who already go through a separate application process that is a lot more involved than just entering a credit card number. And as for the idea of a special VIP ticket, guaranteeing you preferred real estate at the event? Just fuck that noise.

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    • sell 1 ticket for 1 price = “obnoxiously stupid”. uh-huh. yep, thats a real wacky idea. You keep believing there were 61,000 people there buddy. The BMorg would never lie or fuck up. Anyone questioning the ticket process is therefore stupid.

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      • WOW, yer a dick. is this how you treat people on the playa? judge them for having a different perspective than yours? you must be the realest burner at the burn!!!

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  10. All I can say is I didn’t go because the tickets were too expensive, on top of having to take off work… which isn’t easy when I own the tiny business and it doesn’t operate without me. I’m not sure if any of those suggestions will get me there in 2013. It’s already about the money + the time, which is also money.

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  11. hold on hold on hold on… i work as a caregiver, organic farm hand and local business employee and therefore i’m a broke ass who loves to burn, cause none of these occupations can pay me big. 2012 the only reason i could go was because of the low income ticket i applied for and received (which shaved $240 offa my expenses). to say that i could “volunteer” for some art or theme camp is a pile-o-crap. i don’t go to burning man to become an indentured servant for a group of peoples who are partying while i do their dirty werk. i go to the burn and make my own camp with my peoples (luvingly dubbed The Droplet). we don’t rely on some pre-fab camp to get us to and sustain us at burning man, we do it our damn selves cause that’s what burning man is all about FOR US. we each earn and pay our own way and bring what we individually need. we share, we don’t. we FUCKING PARTY ON OUR OWN TIME, and answer to none unless we want to (like when i last minute volunteered for the Wall Street burn or when my homie picked up an extra shift at Temple). so i guess what i’m sayin is, i hear your suggestion, and it sounds like it’s coming from someone who’s never needed to utilize the low-income ticket. DON’T TOUCH THAT SHIT. it’s legit cause burning man is supposed to NOT BE ABOUT WHO THE FUCK CAN AFFORD IT, which seems to be the little piece YOU are not understanding. making the burn more expensive undermines it’s intention of accessibility. i like a lot of your ideas and think selling tickets doesn’t need to be so complicated, but taker yer monitory basis and shove it back in yer wallet cause some of us plan and save all year to get to the burn and $1000 is as much as we’re ever gunna scrape for it. that should not mean we don’t get a chance cuz once i’m there, you’ll think i’m baller.

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    • Lucifine, I’m fascinated to hear from experienced low-income Burners. What sort of gifts do you give out? Hugs? Blowjobs? Do you bring an art car or art project? Are you in a theme camp? Do you work/do chores at the Burn?

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      • i share food and snacks, i donate organic carrots and beets from the farm i work on, i offer crocheted glass water bottles created by me and filled with my hometown’s artesian well water for in exchange of bike work, i haul extra artesian water and share it with passer-bys and new found friends, i read tarot, i offer up whiskey and wine at parties, i perform as i dance, this year i volunteered to work a fire perimeter, i hold space at Temple, i offer help to stray wanderers and don’t ignore unsavory behaviors, i generally share my resources and keep my footprint small, i collect moop and leave without a trace to return to my default town where i continue to live in such radical give and take. black rock city is not the only community where these ideals are in ready practice so i bring my first hand experience and knowledge of radical society back to the playa and educate fools and tools and participate with fellow seekers of truth.

        so t’what is it you share at burning man, burnersxxx, general douchebaggery and a fist full of class judgement?

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      • Asking him to prove he is burnery enough for you is disgusting. After reading a couple handfuls of articles on this site and their comments, i won’t be coming back. Sanctimonious pricks.

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      • dunno where you got that from Parker. If you actually ever read this blog, you’d see that we are completely AGAINST the “burner than thou” types.
        Like the question says, I am interested to hear from Low Income Burners what they are able to gift. I think there are many “sparkle ponies” who come along for the ride, someone gifts them their tickets, someone buys them their costumes and gives them space in their RV, in exchange we get to look at them. Their presence is our present, type of thing. Could it survive without rich people? Not if you want art cars, art installations, music stages, and most theme camps. That doesn’t mean poor people have nothing to contribute, Lucifine’s answer seems to illustrate that quite well. I do wonder how many other low income people contribute quite so much, it seems to me that the hidden illusion behind the “gift” economy is that someone in the real economy is spending real dollars to get all those gifts to give away.
        Lucifine, to answer your question, I don’t give nearly as much as you on the Playa. I give away booze, play some tunes, pay some of the costs for an art car that Burners can ride around in (transportation alone from Reno: $1000+), gift tickets and camp fees to some friends, usually try to convince a few Virgins to come …oh, and spend hundreds (maybe even thousands) of hours all through the year bringing news and opinions about Burning Man to the community for free via this blog. Which, of course, IS a fistful of sanctimonious douchebaggery – because if you want to read a completely sucky blog where everything is roses, speaking out against the BMOrg is verboten, and everyone’s tongue is up Burning Man’s ass, you’re most welcome to go to http://blog.burningman.com . Fuck yer day!

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