Now I actually like the idea of random placement, but here are some snags:
lurker wrote:Center camp will always be--no matter what's there or what it's called--a central meeting point is something that tends to naturally occur in human society.
Los Angeles is a counterpoint. Now it IS the case that the vast majority of cities outside of Black Rock DO have central meeting points, but it is also the case that the vast majority of cities outside of Black Rock GREW around those center points, rather than being established overnight and having the center points appear on their own.
Were Manhattan wiped out and created anew tomorrow, with no Times Square already in place, I can't imagine any social forces that would make that part of town or any other develop into a central hub - the city would probably remain a bunch of disconnected neighborhoods, just like LA.
lurker wrote:Place theme camps, large villages and art installations randomly throughout the city. Don't fall for downtown-style clustering.
For better or worse, what you're asking for is LA taken to the extreme. Here in the City of Angels, an evening of dinner, a show, a bar, and a club can easily carry you all over the city, and eat hours in transit alone.
lurker wrote:Random placement would encourage wider interaction as 'destination' points would be separate.
That is exactly what so many Angelenos grumble about. The upside is that it makes those of us who have lived in the city for years look omniscient to visitors - the downside is that it takes newcomers months or years of active exploration to find anything of merit. A further downside is that plenty of folks just give up on exploring, and never realize how much cool stuff is hidden out there.
Of course, the self-interested actions of individual business owners mitigate this situation by creating little clusters of complementary experiences. These clusters allow for a romantic walk past galleries and restaurants in SoHo, for cool bars and artwork in Los Feliz, for the tourist midway that you find at the Fisherman's Wharf, etc.
IMHO, the biggest weakness of BRC is that the current placement process severely reduces the ability of individual camps to organize these clusters. There is no problem if your camp fits in the Fisherman's Wharf (Esplanade), City Hall (Center Camp), or the club district (Amplified Audio) - you just ask the BMORG to put you in one of those state-organized clusters. And there is no problem if you are so tight with a bunch of other camps that you'd be willing to entangle yourselves in the shared responsibility of a Village...
...but if what you want is to get yourself into a neighborhood of independent camps that provide complementary services, you just have to ask for the right neighbors and pray. Consider that, in BRC, next-door neighbors can't even coordinate the layouts of their own camps, because nobody knows exactly who their neighbors are until they arrive on the playa - at which point construction is already underway. This lack of foreknowledge eliminates a class of social interaction as well as making the city less space-efficient.
The only way the system will support individual camps coordinating their placement is if A) an actual map showing everyone their exact neighbors was published well in advance of the event, and B) if camps were allowed to negotiate changes in position and space allocation with each other in advance of the event.