Last weekend BMOrg hosted their Global Leadership Conference. We didn’t attend, but feel like we were there: thanks to an unprecedented social media blitz from BMOrg, spearheaded by their new blogger Jon Mitchell. He has added tweeting and the ability to take digital photos to their repertoire. More than 300 attendees – some invited for free, some paying $100 to attend as a “guest” – were encouraged to use the hashtag #bmglc14 to provide a “real-time” experience of being in the conference.
The conference featured both presenters and attendees who haven’t been to Burning Man before. In fact, going to Burning Man is no longer considered necessary to be
indoctrinated living your life by the Ten Principles. There were cocktail parties, sit-down dinners, entertainers, DJs, speeches, the works. I heard the party at the Crucible was a lot of fun.
Burning Man see themselves as pioneers of new economic models. The current trend of the “sharing economy” is something they’re all over: so much so, that in fact, all Ten Principles are now to do with the sharing economy (a term first introduced around 2007). The Minister of Propaganda went even further, saying “the sharing economy is the new morphine”. Because we all know morphine is a wonderful and desirable thing that should be shared widely.
One company held up to be a leader in the sharing economy is AirBnB. Instead of them, though, BMOrg chose to present the wisdom of Burner Casey Fenton from Couch Surfing – someone who has publicly said “I’m not interested in making money” while burning through $22 million of investor’s funds. Casey positioned his site as the high-brow, anti-capitalist solution to people’s social problems. He preferred the “gifting” and “sharing” side of the business, while AirBNB and Uber pursued the “ten billion dollars” strategy. This is the new hipster maths of San Francisco – “cool points” with BMOrg should be aspired towards, based on your free labors; if you get lucky and make billions, then please just donate and they’ll send you a scarf.
You want a better example of Burner innovation in the sharing economy? Try Travis Laurendine’s AirPnP.co, an app created during New Orleans Mardi Gras that lets people monetize their bathrooms. A perfect solution for those with spare dump-tank capacity in their RVs at Burning Man…
Let’s take a look at some of the leaders of our culture.Discussing the future of Burner culture, and how we are doing the impossible AND saving the world at the same time, is not all just sitting on your ass watching Powerpoints. They also have contortionists, clowns, and hula hoopers to entertain you. And, yoga in between sessions. There may have even been a break-out bike meeting.
The event was held in Burning Man’s new headquarters in the uber-hip Mission District. So hip, they couldn’t keep the lights on – the power went out at least twice. You would think that’s one thing they’d be guaranteed to get right, especially in their own building. 16% of attendees were from outside the United States, and the average number of burns across the attendees was 4.
Defaultia, also known as the “Default World”, or “Meatspace”…is no longer en vogue. It’s more politically correct these days to refer to it as the “playa-adjacent world”.
Here’s a round-up of some of the conference highlights, from Twitter:
“Burning Man didn’t change your life, it changed the path your life was on” – Marian Goodell
“It seems like only yesterday that we wanted to be a city, and now it seems other cities want to be us” – Stuart Mangrum. Wait – there are other cities that want to be Burning Man? Where? Let’s go! Sounds better than having to deal with hostile judges and sheriffs in remote Nevada.
“No longer just a party in the desert, Burning Man’s a global creative renaissance” – Rosie Lila, Event Co-ordinator
“Burning Man out in the world is turning from a noun into a verb. It’s a global social movement” – Bear Kittay, BMOrg Social Alchemist
“We don’t have media just talking about the debauchery and myths anymore. They are asking about our philosophy” – Will Chase, BMOrg Minister of Propaganda.
“We talk a lot about Radical Self-Expression, but not a lot about Radical Listening” – Tom Laporte
“Don’t make a tower out of the Ten Principles – we’ll burn it”
“When you promote a family friendly event, you can blast the burner party reputation” blast!
“Non-Burners at Burner parties need education about culture, ie not typical club behavior, respect of women, etc.” yeah good luck with that one. Burning Man is going to teach non-Burners respect of women at parties. OK, go! Please report back here with the results.
“The sharing economy is the new morphine” – Will Chase, BMOrg Minister of Propaganda
“Tax benefits for donating” – Harley Dubois, Burning Man Founder
“The only thing valuable in this marketplace will be a gift” – Larry Harvey
“After Cargo Cult, I decided I’ll no longer do themes that are self-explanatory” – Larry Harvey
“Every year I come up with an idea of a theme camp but no-one will help me. They’re all working on the Man” – Larry Harvey