The concept of human autonomy within society is beginning to seem like willful self-deception to me.

The self in society depends on others, it owes its character and self-image to others, and it relies on gifts from others to meet its needs.

And, by its very embodied presence, as well as its every word, gesture, and action, the self causes experiences that constantly affect other selves.

It’s greedy to take all that for granted and then say, “I am my own person,” isn’t it? It’s not even just greedy; it’s demonstrably untrue. And think about what that means for notions of property, ownership, authorship, originality, and so on!

— A train of thought that left the station while reading Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein

AuthorJon Mitchell
CategoriesPsyche, Economy

One hot Thursday afternoon in Black Rock City, Root and I stopped at Center Camp to catch some shade. We lucked out; the first Jamaican reggae band to ever play Burning Man was on stage, and people were getting down. I danced by the stage while she hung out in the front row. There’s nothing better than the ecstasy on dusty faces when a live band breaks through the week-long fog of indistinguishable DJ sets.

The band finished playing, and we all rejoiced. Wiped out, I sat down next to Root to watch the next act, a couple of lawyers dressed like ancient Egyptians who were there to tell us how to deal with law enforcement on the playa. That sounded useful.

After all, it had been a big year for run-ins with law enforcement on the playa. We had read plenty of stories about severe and surprising busts in the run-up to Burning Man, and we heard more tales of woe from friends after we arrived. The Bureau of Land Management had insisted on tighter control at the gate. It seemed like a good year to brush up on our rights.

For a while, this talk felt righteous. We were becoming better citizens. But the conversation gradually turned toward philosophical pronouncements, indignant rants, and wild warnings about undercover narcs. “This is a little too us-versus-them for my taste,” Root said to me. “Plus, I’m getting kind of paranoid about there being cops everywhere. Aren’t you?”

I sure was. So we hopped up off our floor cushion, hoisted our packs, and stepped out of Center Camp into the afternoon heat, only to be greeted by an enormous convoy of federal agents in SUVs with their lights flashing, rolling right through the middle of Black Rock City.


AuthorJon Mitchell

I remain
ready for
to wake
me up
at any
time of
night or
crash through
my day
like a
bull elephant.

AuthorJon Mitchell

In San Francisco Burner circles, close to the source, I often hear the Burner’s Dream expressed thusly: Our dream is to bring the principles we embody out on the playa back to the default world.

We want to be as awesome as we are at Burning Man all the time, and we want our cities and towns and neighborhoods to be that awesome as well.


This June, a bunch of San Francisco Burners fell into the opportunity to take over a 14,000-square-foot SOMA warehouse for $1 and turn it into [freespace], a three-story blank canvas for artists, hackers, farmers, builders, and whoever else wanders in, meant to be a staging ground for inspired experiments in hacking on the meaning of urban space.

Sounds like that Burner’s Dream come to life, right? Naturally, Burning Man got involved. But what does that even mean? Who is this “Burning Man?” Is it the Burning Man organization? is it the fledgling non-profit Burning Man Project? Is it Burning Man participants acting of their own accord?


Read more on the official Burning Man Blog.



AuthorJon Mitchell
CategoriesBurning Man

Good morning.
It's a sunny day
in Bushrod Community Park.
A Sunday morning.
The birds and squirrels are up.
What are you, poet?
What's your story?
Got anything? No?

This is how you saw it, right?
25, sleepless, sexless
beard and hair everywhere
trying to write himself
on a war-torn green picnic table
in the park in the neighborhood
sure of only one thing:

The last demon
to sit down
at this picnic table
was a hell of a lot scarier
than you are.

This is what you dreamt of, yes?

Well, did you wake up yet?

Can't wake up if you never slept, right?

Cute answer, but wrong.

You love to sleep.

You just can't.

I left the portal on
back at home
while you went for this
adorable little walk.
Cold comfort for when you get back,
I know,
but it's home. Right?

Last night,
you thought you heard this signal
that wrote over the last noise,
whatever it was,
and then wrote over it again.
The sound of the
delete key
on a blinking red
emergency panel.
You pushed the button
again and again
expecting the screen
to go blank
but it didn't.
It wouldn't shut off.

Now it's just morning again.

Just this. Yawn.

The kids are learning baseball
from the dads and other men.

People are holding cell phones
up to their ears
wobbling around by themselves
pretending to have something to do
pacing back and forth
just looking at cracked, green paint
seeing how deep the cracks are.

Yeah, he's doing it. Yep.
A grown-up with a blue polo shirt
tucked into his jeans,
after doing his arm stretches,
is climbing onto the jungle gym
right in front of you
to swing from the monkey bars
just one time.
And now he's off the playground
walking back onto the court
to practice his pitching motion
like nobody's watching.

Oh, but he knows you're there.
He's going to walk by you now
on the way to his car.
You're twiddling your beard,
and he's nodding to you.
Quit touching your face
and say it,
croak "Good morning,"
sounding just like the frog
you ate for dinner
last night,
crunching up the bones in
your teeth.

Now hop home,
back through Bushrod,
past the Beautiful Gate Church
cross Shattuck
without getting splattered,
crawl back into your portal,
and don't wake the stranger
sleeping in your living room.

AuthorJon Mitchell

This is a standalone version of a comment originally posted in a Facebook discussion. It resulted from the sharing of a violent image from the bombing at the Boston Marathon today.

Images of violence should be preceded with a trigger warning. Otherwise, the trauma they can induce in viewers only serves to heighten the impact of the violence.

We are all journalists now, and the most important job of a journalist is to put facts into context. The violence of a news event is a fact of a serious nature, and so it should be reported carefully and in context.

The real-time social streams from which we get our information are challenging places to provide context. Attention is scarce there. Sensationalism is tempting. But attention garnered that way comes at a cost. When that cost is the amplification of trauma, I think that's too high.

I understand the argument that privileged people should be confronted with the violent reality of day-to-day life. It is easy to ignore news of violence for those to whom violence is an abstract idea. Comfortable people will go to great lengths to remain comfortable, even going so far as to ignore uncomfortable news. I agree that news media are ineffective if they allow violence to go ignored. But a violent photo is not the news. It's violence out of context.

The problem with forcing violent images on people is not mere discomfort. The problem is trauma. There are plenty of images that can be used responsibly to package the facts with the right amount of discomfort. The line not to cross is further traumatizing victims of violence. That is, after all, the goal of those who engage in mass violence.

AuthorJon Mitchell

What would we do without you? You’re like lighthouses guiding our way across the fuzzy digital sea. In a room of voices, we happened to hear yours. A link, a warm idea, a staticky Markov joke confirmed we were playing on the same team. After months, in some cases years, we’ve built up such a strong network. We depend on it.

But what happens when the services we use to stick together fall apart, as they inevitably do? Won’t you miss Google Reader? Aren’t you sad that Instagram sold our moments to Facebook? Aren’t you worried about Twitter’s mad rush to turn tweets into auto-playing video commercials?

We are. That’s one reason we joined And now that it’s free to participate, we hope you’ll join us.

What's the point? is infrastructure for a social web that its users and makers control. Your account lets you authenticate into any application a developer can dream up for the service, and it can store all the messages, media, and data you create.

For example, if you don’t like the way a photo app is going, you can just switch apps and bring all your photos with you. And has a backbone of a Twitter-like social graph, so your relationships come with you, too.

But there’s no advertising. You choose your applications. You own your data. You can follow some people, post messages, and store some data with a free account, and paying ADN boosts your following and storage allowances. It’s like Dropbox, Flickr, or Evernote. The relationships and the stuff belong to you, and the service just makes your applications work.

We’re not members just to replace Twitter for some ideological reason. We’re members so we can try out new ways of managing our thousands of digital photos without having to do some huge migration every time we switch. We’re members so we can meet collaborators — the same way we met you — and move with one click into a private chat room where we can plan, work, and share project files, all on one service.

There are so many cool apps already, and it’s just getting started. And if there’s something else you want to see built, you’re in the middle of a community that can help make it happen.

What do we do now?

Oh, what are we working on? Well.

We’re sharing stuff we’re reading and writing. We set up our @reading bots over there. We’re posting snap insights and observations, just like we do on Twitter, but with a little more writing room and a smaller but more excited community. We’re also thinking and talking about new possibilities for publishing over a network like this, and some of the first experiments are about to begin.

The last critical ingredient we need is you. Come join and get in on this jam session. We’re not leaving Twitter (yet). That’s still where the global conversation is. But there’s a whole different thing happening on ADN, and it’s well worth it to spend time in both.

So here’s a link with 100 invitations. First come, first served. I bet we can even rustle up some more if this link runs out.

We hope to see you on ADN soon.

In our typical sincerity,
Jon (@ablaze) and Rob (@yay)

AuthorJon Mitchell

for Irina

There was a poem.

I did the laundry.
I took out the garbage.
I ate some mushrooms.
I went for a walk,
and I got it.

Why do we go on?

It's this desire for a state
in which the whole world
expresses itself to you
as one,
and it always knows
just what to say.


Talent is

Looking at it,
taking a deep breath,
and being able to tell
if it's good.

AuthorJon Mitchell