Demonstrating How the Principles Mesh

burning-man-dalek-stormtrooperBurning Man has always hosted a large number of nerds. As time goes on and technology becomes more pervasive and sophisticated, new capabilities are unlocked for the citizens of Black Rock City. Some Luddites say “no! We are pagans, we are druids! We are burning an effigy and riding bicycles and tripping on psychedelics! Smart phones are evil”. Others say “get with the times, grandpa”.

The NextWeb has a story by Ryan Matzner, who has not yet been to Burning Man. He’s bringing with him the Radically Inclusive Community Gift of connection to the Internet. If enough people with smartphones install these apps, then the whole festival will be wired. This is a pretty cretive way to promote your app and it launches it with many users, rigt away.

Re-blogged from The Next Web, emphasis ours:


How to find your friends at this year’s Burning Man festival

Ryan Matzner is the Director of Strategy at Fueled, a mobile design and development shop based in NYC and London.

In just over a week, I will make my first pilgrimage to Burning Man. And while I look forward to leaving the mainstream grid to frolic with fellow creative creatures, I’m not so keen on what I understand is a common struggle at Burning Man: losing track of your friends on the playa.

Some people will rely on printed Facebook invites and directions from BurnerMap to find their friends, but these days, workable printers only exist in offices with PCs. And once you’ve left that Walmart in Reno and all other traces of civilization behind, you’re on the playa with no cell coverage and only limited oases of Wi-Fi, meaning you can’t rely on texting to find your mates.

stuart swartz steam trike 1902“Meet u by skeletons rowing giant canoes. Will bring steam trike.”

Or at least it did mean that… until now. In iOS 7.1, Apple quietly enabled technology we’ve been talking about for years. It’s called mesh networking, and it’s about to get seriously revolutionary.

There’s a couple useful devices out there that connecting users offline, including Bluetooth-powered goTenna, but with mesh networking, all you need if your phone. Apple’s Multipeer Connectivity Framework gave developers a platform on which to create mesh networking applications.

It’s the same platform that Apple’s AirDrop uses to share files directly via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, without the need for any intermediary devices.

App developer Open Garden has taken advantage of this new technology by building a proof-of-concept chat app for iOS and it’s about to bring mesh networking to the masses. The team also offers an Android version, which relies on Open Garden’s own mesh networking platform. The app, called FireChat, and others like it, is the tool for finding your friends at Burning Man.

FireChat app iPhone How to find your friends at this years Burning Man festival

…out on the playa at Burning Man, there is no pervasive, reliable, centralized network to collect and redistribute our messages.

“Time 2 burn Man. Bring matchz.”

Enter the mesh network.

With FireChat, or with other similar mesh apps like The Serval Mesh, installed (do it before you come to Burning Man, because, you know, no internet access, right?), my device connects with all other “meshed” devices within my Bluetooth range (about 10 meters)… and they connect with all the similarly enabled devices within their range. And so on, and so on…

If there’s a high enough density of devices using mesh networks on the playa, my message gets passed along from device to device to device (each serving as a node in the network) until it finds its way to my friend a half mile away over in Camp Contact.

Meanwhile, my device is helping pass along the messages of everyone else in the mesh. There’s no server needed, no weighty infrastructure, just all us individuals and our connected devices, weaving together the community one packet at a time.

… Burning Man traditionalists are going to say this is mainstreaming the Burning Man experience…there’s a principle of immediacy to be upheld, and that it’s important to directly experience what’s right there in front of you.

That’s cool. But when I’m having that mind-blowing experience, I want to send out a call to my friends to come experience it with me… immediately!

And wouldn’t you know, mesh networking is actually quite consistent with the principles of Burning Man. It’s…

Radically Inclusive: Anyone can join, no password needed, no sign-up required, all are welcome.

Communal Effort: We each do our little part, and the tech self-assembles amongst us.

Gifting: You’re giving freely of your device’s connectivity to everyone else in the mesh, simply by being on the playa. You won’t even know to whom you’re giving these gifts or when they’re receiving them. It will simply be happening, in the background, all the time.

It’s also a brilliant example of the power of community. The more we connect, the stronger the mesh will get, and the more useful the network will be for all of us.

Mesh networks are changing the game. So, consider these tips and download some apps before you drop out of civilization and, when you arrive on the playa, join me on the network. We’ll wrap the Man in mesh and light him up with shared connectivity. See you there.

Burner Kindles Fire founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is surely one of the smartest people on the planet. He is also a Burner – one worth $30 billion, who made a lazy $128.5 million today.

Burning Man obviously made a big impact on Burner Bezos, because he now seems to have a bit of an obsession with flamage.

jeff_bezos_fire_phone_amazon-100313670-largeFirst he introduced the Kindle. Then, the Kindle Fire and Fire TV. And now, simply, Fire. Which contains a new Augmented Reality technology, called Firefly.

Bezos has some big cojones, going up against smartphone giants Apple and Samsung, and rival Billionaire Burners Google with their open source Android platform. The new phone connects to an artificial intelligence server, which can identify 100 million different objects through the phone’s camera – and help you purchase the same from, natch.

apple kindle fireVentureBeat has raised some privacy concerns with the Fire. Look out for them trying to make sense of all the bizarre objects on the Playa this year. Last year we had 8 iPhone Apps to Survive Burning Man, now perhaps Amazon’s cloud can accumulate an amazing array of unique objects and footage from its Fire users at Burning Man. How BMorg will monetize or impede that, remains to be seen. Google certainly cleans up with all the revenues from YouTube footage taken at Burning Man, some of which has millions of views. It is unknown whether Google pays BMOrg a royalty for this.

From VentureBeat:

Amazon is a fascinating company, and the Amazon Fire Phone is a fascinating machine for connecting you with stuff to buy. It’s probably also the biggest single invasion of your privacy for commercial purposes ever.

And no one seems to have noticed.

fire engineThere’s a lot of gee-whiz gadgetry in the new Fire Phone: a 3-D screen, head sensors, dynamic perspective shifts as you move, and real-time identification of over 100 million objects. That last part, the real-time identification, is the new Firefly function.

Firefly is a seriously impressive combination of hardware, software, and massive cloud chops that delivers an Apple-like simplicity to identify objects like books, movies, games, and more, just by pointing your Fire Phone’s camera at them and tapping the Firefly button.

Lest you noticed a common denominator to those items and get the crazy idea that Firefly is only for stuff you can buy at Amazon, it also recognizes songs (oh, you can buy those on Amazon too) and TV shows (ditto) as well as phone numbers, printed information, and QR codes.


How do you think it recognizes those things, including text on images, for which Amazon says it will offer language translation features later this year?

Well, the Firefly button and the camera button are one and the same. Meaning that whenever you’re using Firefly, you’re using the camera…All of those pictures require processing, analysis, and matching, presumably at a level — if they can identify 100 million objects — that can only be done in the cloud, and not on a small handheld device with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of on-board storage.

Fortunately for you, dear consumer, Amazon has kindly consented to store all your photos, forever, in its vast cloudy server farms. How gracious Amazon is, providing that massive service for free! How lucky are you, getting all that for free!

falcon 900ex bezos

Bezos operates his Falcon 900EX through a Star Trek themed company

Probably not as lucky as Amazon. By storing all the photos you’ll ever take with Firefly, along with GPS location data, ambient audio, and more metadata than you can shake a stick at in Amazon Web Services, Amazon will get unprecedented insight into who you are, what you own, where you go, what you do, who’s important in your life, what you like, and, probably, what you might be most likely to buy…Big data? This is gargantuan data…the NSA’s wet dream.

Firefly is “instant gratification,” says TechCrunch. Fire Phone is an “amazing piece of hardware,” saysWired. Amazon’s Fire Phone APIs are a dream for developers, [VentureBeat] said. Firefly lets you “easily price-check items,” says GigaOm. Firefly is the phone’s “sexiest feature,” [VentureBeat] said.

It also might just make you Amazon’s bitch.

“We care about consumers’ privacy,” the Amazon press release announcing Fire Phone does not say.

Bezos recently (and reluctantly) bought the Washington Post, from Facebook founder and Billionaire Burner Mark “grilled cheese” Zuckerberg’s mentor Don Graham. The Post has long been linked to the intelligence community, and around the same time Amazon announced a $600 million deal with the CIA – called “a recipe for Big Brother Hell” by privacy activists.

CollectiveCartoon animal farm kindle apple


Fire into the clouds, Burners!


Snapcious Hones Your Photog Chops

by Whatsblem the Pro

An entry in a recent Snapcious Mission -- PHOTO: Mack Reed / Snapcious

An entry in a recent Snapcious Mission — PHOTO: Mack Reed / Snapcious

Mack Reed, a burner since 1996, is launching a free photo game for iOS called SNAPCIOUS that he says “inspires you to see the world through different eyes.”

“The challenge – ‘who can take the best picture of an idea?’ – adds meaning to the willy-nilly-photograph-anything obsession we all have with sharing photos,” Mack explains. “It inspires your creativity, and pushes you to see the world around you more intensely.”

According to Mack, the snappy new app encourages the average non-photographer Joe or Joette armed only with a phone cam to start thinking like a fine arts photographer, or a photojournalist.

“Snapcious brings out your inner photojournalist so you can do kick-ass coverage of your life. . . and it challenges you to develop your visual voice, putting your full creativity into everything you snap.”

How does it work?

“Every day, a new crowd-sourced Mission begins. It’s like a simple photo assignment, thought up by the players themselves – ‘Quality of Light,’ ‘Go Ahead and Jump,’ ‘Bad Hair Day’ – in which players snap and share their interpretation of the Mission and then everyone rates the photos.

“Top-rated photos win. As you earn more points by posting photos, rating them, adding comments and suggesting ideas for new Missions, you gradually level up and gain more insight into the art of photography.”

The game is still in its first incarnation, with a raft of incentives planned. Mack is clearly passionate about both the game and photography itself; he seems to want above all to leverage the ubiquity of camera phones to foster more and better photographers.

“When you level-up,” he tells me, “you’ll get access to a pro camera, pro editing tools, and the ability to mentor newer photographers by offering pro tips. In short, we’re building a culture around the notion that everyone secretly desires to become an award-winning photographer, and that photography is a language we can all learn to use with more beauty, finesse and meaning, if we just start communicating more effectively through what we shoot.

“We all take photos as easy as blinking. We all need to start making photos more meaningful, insightful and beautiful. Anyone can share a photo of their pet, their breakfast or their best friend. But how many of us are sharing photos that challenge the eye, that reveal something about us, that expose our inner beauty?

“That’s why we built the game – we want to give people the tools to feed their inner eye and see the world differently.”

You can check out the game at or download it for iOS.

Mack himself gives a game walkthrough in this video:

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