trilobyte wrote:I can't imagine a universe where crowd-sourcing your business accounting would be a good idea.
I suggest reading up on the world of open-source software. It's truly incredible how some groups have managed to crowd-source difficult, technical, quantitative tasks.
I'm certainly not suggesting that Burning Man fire all their employees and hope for the best. That would be absurd. But consider this thought experiment: Suppose they switched to a "default public" model: all internal discussions, all emails and memos and data about running Burning Man, were automatically posted online for anyone who was curious. No normal business would do this, because it gives their competitors a huge advantage, knowing exactly what's going on. But Burning Man doesn't have
competitors in that sense. So, is there any downside? It's potentially embarrassing, of course -- they'd have to admit to any embarrassing mistakes, to policies that didn't work out the way they planned, that normally they'd just sweep under the rug and hope nobody found out. But that's not going to kill Burning Man... at worst, it helps keep them honest, and even the best of us can use a little pressure to help keep us honest
So, suppose they do this. Perhaps nothing happens. That'd be too bad, but it wouldn't really cost them anything to try... it's pretty cheap to do.
But perhaps some interesting people take notice. They mention a difficult problem, and someone sends them an insightful solution that they hadn't thought of. They post a bunch of data, and someone else mines it for a pattern they hadn't noticed. They post a legal question, and a law student studying just that issue gives them a detailed answer before they even get around to calling their lawyers. Over time, the organization can start to rely more and more on this community, as they find out exactly what they can and can't get reliably from it; but the community is always outside. The core group, the paid Burning Man employees, are ultimately running everything themselves; they have the final say in everything, but they're able to work far more efficiently and intelligently because of all this external support.
This is exactly how many of the most successful open-source software projects work: A core group of paid developers owns and takes full responsibility for the project, and sees to it that everything that needs to be done gets done; but they work with incredible efficiency due to the huge community of people who use and rely on their software, or believe in their mission, or are trying to get extra credit in school, or whatever reason they might have to help out.
This is also, ultimately, how Burning Man already works to some extent - most of the Burning Man event is built by the community, and pretty seamlessly integrates into the comparatively small (but critically important) portion of the experience built by Black Rock City LLC. It works really well. What's the harm in trying it on a larger scale?