After nearly a year on the job, Ablaze Interactions and my teammates at the Burning Man Project are proud to announce that burningman.org is now live. It is a great honor to have worked on a project this professionally challenging and rewarding, as well as personally meaningful. Allow me to give you a brief tour.
Burning Man’s last website redesign was in 2003, and the culture has grown and changed tremendously since then — as has the web. All of those changes should be readily apparent on the new site. To address the modern web, the site is now fully responsive to all screen sizes. It now runs on WordPress instead of a hodgepodge of static and dynamic web technologies, which makes both technical and editorial upkeep vastly easier.
The cultural changes are just as massive as the technological ones. The new story told by the Burning Man website has three overarching sections:
There’s The Event, which is the part of the story most people who know about Burning Man already know. This is where you find all the information about the festival in the Black Rock Desert.
Then there’s The Culture, which chronicles the artistic and philosophical history of the Burning Man movement in the desert and beyond. That’s where the archives of past Black Rock City events are, but they’re alongside all the other art and civic programs Burners have created elsewhere in the world. You go to this section to learn what Burning Man is about.
Finally, there’s The Network, which is the confederacy of affiliated organizations spanning the globe that are the engines of this culture. That includes the Burning Man Project — my esteemed clients — based in San Francisco, the amazing offshoot organizations Burners Without Borders and Black Rock Solar, and, crucially, the many Regional Groups throwing independent events around the world.
Regionals are the future of this culture. The present, in fact. The press hasn’t really caught up with the story yet, but regional events are already every bit as dynamic and important as Black Rock City itself. Have you heard of AfrikaBurn? They already get more than 10,000 participants. And it’s not run out of San Francisco, to be clear. AfrikaBurn is its own organization (or “organisation,” I suppose), which is part of the Burning Man Network.
So burningman.org is indeed the online heart of Burning Man culture, but much of its content is not about the festival most people know as “Burning Man” at all, except insofar as Black Rock City is a model for other events that now thrive on their own.
But this global future is rooted in Burning Man’s history. The Burning Man website is nothing if not a document of that history as a blueprint for the future. So in addition to the triptych content of the main site, we’ve also constructed an interactive Timeline. The Timeline lets visitors browse Black Rock City history by year, and each year opens up into a lovingly written and illustrated chronicle of what happened.
Let’s Keep On Blazin’
I’d say this is a pretty solid 1.0. There’s more work to do, and there are a few more satellite pieces of the Burning Man web presence to pull in, but the core of the site is ready for primetime. Migrating the 4,500 pages of stuff from the old site — and crushing it down to its current volume of 1,500 or so — was no easy feat, and we have some further editing to do. If you dive down deep enough, you’ll probably find some rough edges. What did you expect? This is Burning Man. But we’re ready to show this site to the world — and to put that… charming… old site out to pasture.
Congratulations to my amazing teammates at Burning Man on a job well done. It has been an honor and a pleasure working with you all, and I’m thrilled to be staying on as managing editor to help maintain and develop this great site we just built to house the stories of our culture.