Who, What Where Guide -- What?

Who, What Where Guide -- What?

Postby ecomain » Sat Sep 08, 2007 9:35 am

What happened with the guide this year!??!

The event guide usually given when entering Burning Man was extremely valuable and fairly effective in 2003. Last year I began to rely on it heavily for choosing events to attend and being aware of some of the fabulous performers on the playa.

This year I didn't even receive one! The greeters ran out of them at the gate and when I went to the info area later asking for one, there weren't any and no one knew where to find any more.

I spoke to others who had them (but wouldn't give any up) and they said it was fairly useless this year anyway because the guide didn't include the location of the events listed and they had to be looked up separately.

As a result, I felt totally lost this year. Many burns ago, I used to just wander around, then I became dependent on the type of guide published last year. I expected the same this year, hoping also to scout talent for a performance theater I'm involved in. The grapevine didn't work well as a substitute. Info didn't have the info I needed.

So the main questions are:

1) What happened this year that led to the layout screwups?
2) Why were so few printed?
3) Why didn't info have copies? Why weren't there PDFs of them on the info computers?
4) How do we at least restore the level of quality access to the guide for 2008?
5) Can I volunteer to work on the guide for next year to help insure we don't run into the same problems?

Did anyone else find their experience diminished for lack of information about what was going on where and when?
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Agreed!

Postby Catwoman69y2k » Sat Sep 08, 2007 10:37 am

I too wondered about this as well and also felt that if I really had so much of a problem with the guide, that I too would like to help in better organizing/displaying the events and camps for the 2008 year.

So far, it looks like the BM.com volunteer questionaire wont be available until Janauary. Is that actually true?
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Postby gaminwench » Sat Sep 08, 2007 11:28 am

Also, the guide had Tuesday's events reprinted for thursday....just another example of the anarchic chaos of the Playa...
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Postby barnz » Sat Sep 08, 2007 11:30 am

I can confirm that the guide was less than stellar in terms of helpfulness. I'm also not surprised that they ran out - the greeter who was responsible for holding us up at the gate threw about FIFTY copies of the GREEN Theme Map into our car.

MMMMMM Irony....
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Postby Wrath7sins » Sat Sep 08, 2007 1:44 pm

Trying to find times for some of the events was impossible too. Ended up missing the first half of the temple burn (Was told it started at 10, but the fires started at 9:30). An event listing should have the time and location tagged on it. This year the burn wasn't even listed. dubyaTeeEff mate?

Here's an idea though: Howabout posting the event scedules and maps as a downloadable PDF that participants can print ahead of time? That way you can print your own "backup copy" in case the greeters are out. Just a thought, prolly not a good one considering the extra moop that could result...
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Postby barnz » Sat Sep 08, 2007 2:09 pm

Wrath7sins wrote:Here's an idea though: Howabout posting the event scedules and maps as a downloadable PDF that participants can print ahead of time? ...


I decided that next year i need to plan what events are worth pursuing based on what people are putting up *here* on ePlaya.

Once I got out there, I was dealing with the emergent issues of camp infrastructure - trying to find out what was worth doing from the book required seeing what was happening sometime around "nowish," then finding the page where what the heck that event actually was, then trying to figure out where it was happening.... no good.
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Postby Wrath7sins » Sat Sep 08, 2007 2:13 pm

I agree, the guide was not well done this year. My suggestion was only to eliminate the guide shortage. Much will need to be done to eliminate the guides uselessness.
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Postby Strawberry Slutcake » Sat Sep 08, 2007 3:36 pm

This year was my first burn, and being the uber-prep girl that I am, made my own listing of camps and events that I wanted to check out. However, I forgot to pack them, and when I got to the playa, the greeters, who were incredibly hot and jovial and seemed to thoroughly enjoy spanking me, forgot to give me any of the paper info. No map, no guide, no what/where/when for me. I still managed to have a fabulous time however, and attribute much of that to not being on any kind of schedule, and just allowing the playa "to provide".

I did get to check a friend's guide out, though, and what a pain in the ass it was! I fully understand that it is a major undertaking to coordinate and compile all that information, but including the location shouldnt be that much extra work.

On the other hand, it did become somewhat of a game for many in our camp, trying to figure the thing out.
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Postby Catwoman69y2k » Sat Sep 08, 2007 3:42 pm

This is exactly what happened to me as well. I had a list of the camps I wanted to check out but never thought to write down the LOCATION and/or times. The who/what/when/where guide had no information.

Yeah, Im definitely interested in helping this year. Cant wait for the volunteer form to be available (January!)
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Glad I'm not lost in the desert with that guide!!

Postby Bell T. » Sat Sep 08, 2007 4:04 pm

So our camp was not alone in being completely bewildered by the bizarre guide this year? I loved the look of it and especially the blank back page with just a bluebird on it. Nice. But useable? Hear the faint bwa-ha-ha-ha in the background? Yes, let's all volunteer and make it into something even marginally useful next year. Really, with about 50% of the people new to the playa this year, it would have been pleasant to have SOME kind of guide, not the mysterious tome only a real psychic could have used. But wouldn't need anyway. Best thing to do at burning man is wander, so maybe that's what they were trying to induce. Sorry, org, I know you put so incredibly much into it all, but this was a major flop. Do not pass Go. Do not collect two hundred dollars.
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Postby Dork » Sat Sep 08, 2007 5:51 pm

One of my camp-mates suggested that each section of the guide was simply a dump of a database table. Apparently they could not manage to do a join before printing. If they needed database help or data cleanup they could have gotten it easily by asking for volunteers.

As for the running out, I'd suggest not automatically handing one to every participant. It's not as if every person in our camp needed a copy - if they were in danger of running out we could have easily managed with a few shared copies in our camp, then picked up extras if they were available on the way out as souvenirs.
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Postby Kinetik V » Sat Sep 08, 2007 10:09 pm

The new format makes for a nice collectible to show that I was at the event. But that's about the only positive thing I could say for it. Someone needs to go back and rethink what they were trying to do because the new approach flat out bombed.
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Postby Catwoman69y2k » Sun Sep 09, 2007 8:21 am

[quote="Dork"]One of my camp-mates suggested that each section of the guide was simply a dump of a database table. Apparently they could not manage to do a join before printing. If they needed database help or data cleanup they could have gotten it easily by asking for volunteers.

As for the running out, I'd suggest not automatically handing one to every participant. It's not as if every person in our camp needed a copy - if they were in danger of running out we could have easily managed with a few shared copies in our camp, then picked up extras if they were available on the way out as souvenirs.[/quote]

I wondered about that, Dork. It just seemed like the information was inconsistent from camp to camp or event to event. For example, one event would have the description and than a location but no time given for the event. Other times, the event description would show the times it would be happening but no way to know where the event was located within BRC.

I know that someone out here might say that the simple solution would of been to journey to center camp and sit in the long line to get that information in case someone put it in the computer database but I think that it could be more trouble. Besides, when I asked center camp if they had any information on camps that TRIED to get in the guide but might of submitted just a day or two late (I knew of at least one camp/event that I was interested in that fell under this circumstance due to a clerical error), they had nothing.

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Postby The CO » Sun Sep 09, 2007 11:28 am

The What Where When didn't even live up to its own name. It was a When or What. To find out Where you had to consult the seperate map. I was very dissapointed. They took something that was not broke, tried to "fix" it, and blew it to pieces.
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Postby Wrath7sins » Sun Sep 09, 2007 7:28 pm

The CO wrote: They took something that was not broke, tried to "fix" it, and blew it to pieces.


Great analogy! I just pictured the guide as a steam turbine at full tilt, and this years "improvements" as a small stone getting sucked in...

Hmm... That visual might be a bit specific. But that's what I would compare it to. The guide was that damn big of a mess.
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Postby ecomain » Mon Sep 10, 2007 9:17 am

Related to the "finding an event" issue is the "locating information on talent our sounds you liked at the event". On other threads I found manypeople asking for links to talent or where to find music heard at the event. I was among them. The non-BRC station played some great music and I can't find a playlist that lists what exactly was playing, only DJs. That's another challenge.

Burning man is such a great stage for alternative bands and acts that it would be a shame to (1) not help burners find something that may interest them, and (2) not being able to find enough information on who was performing and where.

The more we support our talent, events and the theme camps and installations that sponsor them, the better the next Burning Man will be. This support is underpinned by the need for better information flows and mechanisms.

A request was recently sent to the webmaster to look into establishing a database on the burning man site where talent could register itself. This is one step toward decreasing the burden on support volunteers and increasing access to talent info.
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Proposed solution

Postby ecomain » Mon Sep 10, 2007 9:44 am

Here is a proposal for revamping the information flow for talent listings the Who, What, Where Guide and the Info booth:

A) Establish an "Act" registry where every performer that wishes to be known at Burning Man creates a talent profile explaining what they will perform. If they have more than one different type of event, they need to create a record for each. A DJ, for example, would only need to register once. But a performer that performs solo firedancing and peforms as a solo drummer in seperate venues would register for each.

B) Develop a "host" registry for entities that will host events. If theme camps are already in a database, there is no need to change that process. With a slight augmentation, it could be expanded to include all hosts.

C) Event registry. A simple lookup and coordination database that allows an event coordinator to find an Act or Act(s) for an event (already in the system), and describe an event with the location and time. The database needs to require the where and when fields to be completed to ensure the most important information is included in the published guide.

Individual name registrations for the designated entry persons can utilize the existing eplaya registration system.

At the publish deadline, simply run some querries to aggregate the data across the databases and setup a template for something like Adobe Indesign to import the data and populate the guide to be ready for publishing.

Port the databases to the server for the Infocamp. Event coordinators could then update the core data ont he playa if last minute changes occur and the citizens would have better, more reliable information on what is going on.
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Re: Proposed solution

Postby The Bass » Mon Sep 10, 2007 9:47 am

this is an awesome project! when are you going to build it?

ecomain wrote:Here is a proposal for revamping the information flow for talent listings the Who, What, Where Guide and the Info booth:

A) Establish an "Act" registry where every performer that wishes to be known at Burning Man creates a talent profile explaining what they will perform. If they have more than one different type of event, they need to create a record for each. A DJ, for example, would only need to register once. But a performer that performs solo firedancing and peforms as a solo drummer in seperate venues would register for each.

B) Develop a "host" registry for entities that will host events. If theme camps are already in a database, there is no need to change that process. With a slight augmentation, it could be expanded to include all hosts.

C) Event registry. A simple lookup and coordination database that allows an event coordinator to find an Act or Act(s) for an event (already in the system), and describe an event with the location and time. The database needs to require the where and when fields to be completed to ensure the most important information is included in the published guide.

Individual name registrations for the designated entry persons can utilize the existing eplaya registration system.

At the publish deadline, simply run some querries to aggregate the data across the databases and setup a template for something like Adobe Indesign to import the data and populate the guide to be ready for publishing.

Port the databases to the server for the Infocamp. Event coordinators could then update the core data ont he playa if last minute changes occur and the citizens would have better, more reliable information on what is going on.
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Postby ecomain » Mon Sep 10, 2007 12:58 pm

A project like this needs to be endorsed and supported by Burning Man LLC.

I'm hoping that someone in management will see this thread and act on the ideas here. It would probably help if other burners referenced this thread in emails to management requesting this project.
Those that do not fight tyranny deserve it, for complacency grants license to the oppressors. -Aramis
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Guide? I didn't need no stupid guide.....

Postby joemomma » Mon Sep 10, 2007 1:28 pm

My first year also, and I looked at my guide once. From then on, I found my info by asking people, neighbors, anyone.
I found that there was so much to do, that I didn't even get out of my general area, 8:45 and L much, other than to go see the dark art, the Man and the Temple burn, that being fantastic.
I didn't even head over to the 2:00 to 3:00 range, except when partying on an art car.....
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Postby Otoscope » Tue Sep 11, 2007 3:50 am

In the beginning of the 2007 WhatWhereWhen guide it says that they are trying out a new format this year and that they hope you find it more useful. I just don't get it. Who in the world thought that this new format was in any way more useful than before? Notably lacking in the guide is the where portion of the title. Where is the camp you are looking for? That info is not in the guide!! Maybe you found a cool event description there. When is it? Beats me!! Just how am I supposed to use this thing?

What bugs me most about the guide is how easily it could have been fixed. Just an extra line at the end of each event description including an address of the camp hosting the event and the time it would be happening would make the guide just fine.

Can you do that fellas? Please? Just remember... WhatWhereWhen needs the Where and When posted at the same place as the What. Or if not, please, please, please go back to the old format. It was so much more informative.
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Postby bigbluedoggy » Tue Sep 11, 2007 2:34 pm

Not really tryng to defend the flawed guide, but if I am not mistaken, they closed the issue to changes prior to the publishing of the theme camp placements. I could be wrong, but I seem to recall it that way.
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Postby Lelu » Tue Sep 11, 2007 3:22 pm

This was my first year, and although I participated in many events, I had to basically flip back and forth through the pages. Im not really complaining but they could have made it a bit more organized than that. Regardless, I still found events I was looking for but it took way more brain power than it should.

Hopefully next year it shall be better. I also have a question/suggestion. If this was the Green man and there was 10's of thousands of these mini books printed, were they at least printed on post consumer waste paper, organic, or paper using non virgin fiber? I didnt pay attention if it was listed on the book, plus, I think with that many booklets being published we should set up a booklet recycling bin where we can all dispose of them. Some of us would like to take one home and the rest we can group with people who are willing to take a bag to the nearest recycling depot. I for sure wouldnt mind taking a few blue bags out.

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Postby Fat SAM » Tue Sep 11, 2007 7:30 pm

A notable virgin in Stag Camp spent her time before the burn reading everything she could online and compiling her own W/W/W. She showed up on the Playa like a bad ass because she spent a little extra time researching the events/camps lists before leaving her hometown. Fuck the W/W/W.

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Postby amethyst8971 » Wed Sep 12, 2007 1:00 am

My first Burn as well, and I agree that the only thing the book was good for was a souvenier. I did have a late night chat with one of the greeters who also hated the book. Her belief was that they were handing out 40,000 pieces of moop. Hopefully for next year they get it together so we have a usable book. Though I did find that wandering was the best way to find things to do. When I got to the playa the last thing I wanted was a schedule.
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Postby The CO » Wed Sep 12, 2007 10:16 am

Not a fan of playa schedules myself, but there were several events I would have like to go to, & by the time I figured out location etc. they were done.

If it ain't broke, don't mutate it. The old style www worked just fine.
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Postby Tabula Rasa Mistress » Wed Sep 12, 2007 2:51 pm

We hadn't been back since 2004, and this "new and improved" guide was bad bad bad...

Can't remember 2003's, but we submitted for 2004 and it came out beautiful... All our events showed and people could find us...

I couldn't find jack using this year's guide...

The upside, I tripped around and found stuff on my own, which led to some cool un-planned encounters :)
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Postby Lassen Forge » Thu Sep 13, 2007 1:18 am

The new guide was the butt of the joke at greeters, both at the gate and the airport.

eg... Ya take this book, look for the name of the event you want, look at the date, look at the host, cross reference it to sheet B and map 36A, and thrown the whole thing in your moop sack for burning at the man. Serious. It was more 40,000 prop pieces for a show and tell on moop than anything useful. GARBAGE!!!

What a total waste of paper. Green man my butt. THIS was the biggest abuse of resource since I can't remember when.

The OLD system worked. QUIT changing shit for the sake of change. Remember what yer granddaddy told you when you started poking around under the hood of your car - If it works, DON'T fuck with it.

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WWW guide

Postby vic » Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:39 am

No one in our camp could use the guide effectively - we gave up and had a great time just wandering around. Reminded me of my first burn in 02 when I didn´t know there was a guide. I had a great time then and also this year.
Having said that, the crappy format of the guide was a diservice to those many camps who posted events there expecting that those who were interested would find out about their planned events. If we had known that the guide would not work, we would have made other efforts to publicize our events. I hope somebody with some organizational skills takes over the guide next year.
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Postby barnz » Thu Sep 13, 2007 10:02 am

Was I the only one reminded of the Marx Brothers' "Tootsie-Frootsie Ice Cream" routine?

(Someone, maybe it was me, I can't remember, kept referring to the What-Where-When as the "What-what-WHAT?!")
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