Hypernormalisation

A fascinating new documentary created for the BBC iPlayer video platform features some great footage of a young John Perry Barlow. It traces the last 40 years of history through a counter-cultural lens.

“You were so much a part of the system that it was impossible to see beyond it…the fakeness was hypernormal”

New Way To Get Face Value or Free Tickets

Burner Map is a tool that lets you indicate where you’re camping, so that your Facebook and other friends can find you. So far 48, 476 people have used it (over several years).

Now they have announced a new innovation, to help Burners who need tickets.

burnermapHelp Friends. Screw Scalping.

BurnerMap now matches up burners in need with friends who have extras.

There is no charge for this nifty service. (But if it turns you on, slip a bill into our fishnets!)

Just please gift tickets or sell at face value because scalping is worse than shirtcocking.

Even though this tool helps you find friends to make exchanges with, you should still be aware of possible scams.

step to heavenGet it here.

Screw STEP, there are still Burners waiting in the queue who were told they got tickets in June but haven’t received them yet. Burner Jennifer wrote:

We got word on June 23rd that we got tickets through the STEP program and it’s now August 9th and we still don’t have tickets and are literally leaving for early arrival build in 10 days…..Please tell us what we can do. Will someone from either TicketFly or the Burning Man organization respond to this thread? Or tell me who I can reach out to about this?

In other Ticket news, we hear that BMOrg fucked up the early access passes by sending camp organizers a single PDF file containing all the passes. Unless the camp all live together off the Playa as well, this becomes a distribution challenge – you can’t just print them out and give them to people. Each organizer now has to waste their time splitting this into separate files and re-scanning. If you’re in this position and using a Mac, you can select View | Thumbnails in Preview to make the chore faster.

Burning Man is well aware of the problem with the way in which TicketFly sent out our EA passes! They are working hard and fast to see if there is ANYTHING they can do to fix it. If they can they will let us know. Likely hood is they will need to address it with Ticketfly for next year.

Please do not email placement about it. Most likely we will have to be radically self reliant and come up with our own solutions.

For me: I printed them, wrote names on them, took pics on my phone and will email them out to my team.

BMOrg: well aware of the problem that they created.

Burners: must be radically self reliant, no big deal, just another problem to deal with, suck it up.

Burner Kindles Fire

Amazon.com 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 Amazon.com, 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.

Wait.

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!

 

Elon Musk: “Burning Man IS Silicon Valley”

Mike Judge is one of this country’s comic greats.

As well as Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill, he made the classic movie Idiocracy.

Now he’s back with a terrific new show on HBO, a sardonic look at Silicon Valley called “Silicon Valley”. It has been called “Entourage with Asperger’s”. It debuted last night, I just watched it with a friend who also has a lot of experience in the Valley, and we both found it hilarious. They’ve totally nailed it, and I can’t wait for the show to develop.

Trailer:

Here’s the whole first episode:

spacex-headquarters-main-office-4Being San Francisco, of course, not everyone is happy about it: including Burner and Tesla founder Elon Musk, who has judged Judge for not radically including himself in our shenanigans. He should be a Burner more like Elon, who flies in by private plane to his plug-n-play Segway model RV compound. Does that put you in a position to be saying “Silicon Valley is Burning Man”?  Hey, when your plane takes off from your office which has 5 Spaceships and you bring the Lucent Dossier Experience to the party, that’s fine by us! You clearly know how to do it better than the fresh-from-Crimea virgins who (shock! horror!) wore a t-shirt with some sort of logo on it, or had to hitch a ride because they couldn’t score a vehicle pass.

Recode brings us the full story, of Elon’s comments over bacon and waffles:

If the crowd reactions at the Silicon Valley premiere of HBO’s comedy series “Silicon Valley” are any indication, the show will hit a nerve with tech’s power players.

Young programmers said they saw themselves in the show. Lawyers and venture capitalists were happy that people would finally see how much power engineers have these days. And Tesla founder Elon Musk, whose name was dropped in the first few minutes of the first episode, hated it.

vice-mike-judge-talks-beavis-butthead-2Created by Mike Judge, Dave Krinsky and John Altschuler, and filmed on location in Palo Alto, the show, which debuts on April 6, follows six roommates, all programmers, as they try to strike it rich in Silicon Valley. During the first two 30-minute episodes at Redwood City’s Fox Theatre, the audience of around 400 locals responded with laughs and sighs as the characters enacted the constant pitching, striving and inanity that felt familiar to those in the recent tech boom.

Afterward, the audience and cast filed uneasily together down Broadway to an after-party at the Fox Forum banquet hall, where a group of Silicon Valley lawyers and venture capitalists formed a tight circle.

“It was no more unreal than real life here,” said Selwyn B. Goldberg, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. “Since the last bubble, it’s been complete insanity.”

Simon Roy, president of Jemstep, agreed, and said the show captures the enormous power that engineers have today.

“In the ’90s, in the 2000s, it wasn’t like this.”

If the VCs and law firm partners were fans, serial entrepreneur Musk was less so. He sees the Valley through Playa-dust encrusted glasses:

Elon Musk, whose high-profile companies SpaceX and Tesla have made him a very big star of tech, recognized a friend in the VC scrum, and joined in.

“The truth? It’s stranger than the fiction,” Musk declared, as the large group debated the verisimilitude of the show and also tech versus Hollywood in general. “Most startups are a soap opera, but not that kind of soap opera.”

Musk did not much like the show and continued talking about the issue of truth versus fiction, in what was an instant television review of “Silicon Valley.”

The verdict of the digital Roger Ebert? Thumbs very much down.

“None of those characters were software engineers. Software engineers are more helpful, thoughtful, and smarter. They’re weird, but not in the same way,” he insisted. “I was just having a meeting with my information security team, and they’re great but they’re pretty fucking weird — one used to be a dude, one’s super small, one’s hyper-smart — that’s actually what it is.”

Musk continued his lively assessment, as waiters passed trays of sweetbread, truffled potatoes, Brussels sprouts and bacon and waffles around them, making larger points about the tech landscape and offering a kind of on-the-fly script notes session for those gathered.

“I really feel like Mike Judge has never been to Burning Man, which is Silicon Valley,” opined Musk. “If you haven’t been, you just don’t get it. You could take the craziest L.A. party and multiply it by a thousand, and it doesn’t even get fucking close to what’s in Silicon Valley. The show didn’t have any of that.”

An early Tesla prototype spotted at Burning Man in 2007

An early Tesla prototype spotted at Burning Man in 2007

Musk looked around the circle and asked who had been to colorful annual desert festival that is a favorite of tech’s elite. Not a one answered in the affirmative.

Then, Musk made the observation that the geeks are without the same social aspirations as those in the entertainment industry, an aspect which he thought the show completely missed.

“The parties in Silicon Valley are amazing because people don’t care about how they’re perceived socially, which I don’t think Mike [Judge] got. Hollywood is a place where people always care about what the public will think of them … and the show felt more like that,” he said. “I’ve lived in Hollywood 12 years, and I’ve never been to a fucking good party.”

Musk reached for a bacon waffle and proclaimed that he would take Judge to Burning Man this year.

We look forward to seeing a Beavis and Butthead art car (at least). Huh huh huh huh. These people are naked. Huh huh. Or at least, a Silicon Valley episode set at Burning Man. Starring Elon, natch.

If Elon thinks that there aren’t just as many celebrities at Burning Man as at your typical Hollywood party, then clearly he hasn’t been reading our coverage of the event.

After his film review, the twice-divorced billionaire Musk was forced to deal with the bevy of young hotties wanting to learn about the latest in SULEV technologies.

musk girl geeksDespite some misgivings about the show, it was clear that Musk was definitely more of a star than anyone present at the premiere. A coterie of millennial women, waiting for him to break away from the group, circled him.

Outside on the street, actor T.J. Miller was having a cigarette. Was he having a good time at the party?


“Yeah, but, and I’m not gonna name names, but if the billionaire power players don’t get the joke, it’s because they’re not comfortable being satirized,” said Miller, who plays a buffoonish character named Erlich, who owns the hacker house. “And they don’t remember that to be a target of humor is an honor — you have to be venerated to be satirized. Like, I’m sorry, but you could tell everything was true. You guys do have bike meetings, motherfucker.”

Also outside smoking was one of the show’s writers, Clay Tarver, who said he had been anxious about having the premiere in the heart of the Valley.

“We knew this would be either a lovely evening or the worst night of our lives,” Tarver said. “I’m still not sure which it is.”

musk_and_obamaTarver said he felt that Silicon Valley was a perfect topic for satire — and that the increasing public resentment toward tech means that the show didn’t even feel that mean anymore (after all, earlier that morning, protesters had vomited on a Yahoo shuttle in Oakland).

“When I first read the pilot, I thought maybe it was too harsh,” he said. “But even just in the last four months, the resentment toward the Valley has come through the roof, so I think it works.”

The HBO jet was docked at an airstrip nearby, and the media execs started filing out to head back to Los Angeles. By the photo booth in the back of the banquet hall, the stars of the show were dancing with their girlfriends.

“The Valley is a place that takes itself too seriously, and it has yet to be properly lampooned,” said lead character Thomas Middleditch. “So it’s time for … it’s time for a wedgie.

It sure is. And I can think of another San Francisco subculture of self-important hipsters who could use a wedgie or three also. Let’s hope Elon gives Mike Judge a LOT of inspiration at Caravansery.

Elon’s comments got some feedback from the show’s creators in the Hollywood Reporter:

producer Alec Berg was still trying to make sense of Musk’s criticisms. “I’m not quite sure what going to Burning Man has to do with anything that was in the show,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “I feel like [Musk] may have a slightly skewed opinion of people because he’s a billionaire and everyone wants to be helpful to him. It’s like he’s the most beautiful woman in the world and he’s saying, ‘Gosh, men are so helpful. They carry your bag and they get the door for you.’ If no one ever says ‘no’ to you and everyone is following around trying to help you, you probably lose perspective pretty f—ing fast.”

He added: “I also feel like the people that disliked it the most are the ones we were most going after, so it seemed like we probably hit the target if they got irked.”

Judge appeared less bothered by Musk’s remarks. “I would not claim to know Silicon Valley better than he does. I’m just going off of what I’ve observed,” he told THR, joking: “Maybe I’ll go to Burning Man with him and smooth it over.”

The show — which has been dubbed “Entourage with Asperger’s” by those involved — follows Richard (Middleditch), a young, socially awkward programmer who creates a search engine that allows musicians to see if their songs are too similar to existing ones. When a bidding war erupts between two tech billionaires over the algorithm behind the app, Richard has to decide between $10 million or taking a risk and possibly making billions. Judge relied on his past experiences working as a test engineer for a Silicon Valley start-up and a few tours of modern tech companies, including Google, to create the series.

While Musk may not have found the satire entirely accurate, he still was able to appreciate the humor. “Some of these billionaires, we have to poke fun at them. That’s the idea,” noted actor T.J. Miller. “They may not love that we’re pocking fun at them, but I said to [Musk], ‘Did you think it was funny?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, it was funny. I was laughing.’ ”

The biggest laugh at the Silicon Valley screening came with one of Kumail Nanjiani‘s (Dinesh) lines, in which he joked that Google co-founder Sergey Brin‘s partner, Larry Page, actually does nothing. (The line didn’t play quite as well with Thursday’s Hollywood audience.) 

“What was neat is all the inside-baseball tech stuff – all stuff we were thinking, ‘Is this right? Are people going to get this?’ – they got all that stuff,” added star Thomas Middleditchof a reception he found rewarding, acknowledging: “We were kind of nervous premiering Silicon Valley to the Silicon Valley.”