How to virtually connect with other Burning Nerds

Originally, I compiled this info sheet for the 5th annual Burning Man Leadership Summit; others might find the below instructions useful for connecting with others interested in research on Burning Man.

I. Website (currently under construction – please note that listings are not comprehensive, nor are all listings peer-reviewed)
See what scholars and researchers have discovered about Burning Man:

Know of peer-reviewed publications related to Burning Man that should be listed or linked on this webpage? Email suggestions to academics [at] burningman [dot] com

II. Discussion list
Burning Nerds has a google group for those interested in reading, conducting, or writing research about Burning Man and its related worldwide culture. Stay updated on recent, relevant and ongoing research about our collective experience on the playa, plan meetups, events, and collaborations. Currently, message traffic ranges from zero to several messages a day.

Visit this group’s homepage:
Email this group: burning-nerds [at] googlegroups [period] com
Subscribe to this group:

How to subscribe to a google group (note: you do not need a google gmail account)
“You can subscribe to a group through our web interface or via email. To subscribe to a group through our web interface, simply log in to your Google Account and visit the group of your choice. Then click the “Join this group” link on the right-hand side of the page under “About this group.” To subscribe to a group via email, send an email to [Groupname] For example, if you wanted to join a group called google-friends, you’d send an email to”

How to manage messages or unsubscribe:
Rather than receiving individual emails, you can elect to have daily summaries/digest sent to you. Or, you can just read the conversations on the web. If you are already subscribed to the list, you can change your settings by logging into your google account and clicking on “Edit my membership.”
Here are your options:
“How do you want to read this group?
• No Email: I will read this group on the web
• Abridged Email (Once per day or for every 100 messages): Get a summary of new activity each day
• Digest Email (Approximately 1 email per day): Get up to 25 full new messages bundled into a single email
• Email: Send each message to me as it arrives”
After selecting the option you want, click “Save these settings.”
If you wish to unsubscribe, click the “unsubscribe.”

Full disclosure: At the Burning Man organization’s request, I am co-moderating the Burning Nerds google group along with Burning Man staff Rosalie Fay Barnes and Andie Grace.

Burning Nerds meet-up at Burning Man, 2:30-5pm Fri., Sept. 2, 2011

Those of you who are interested in meeting other Burning Nerds, please take note:

Burning Nerds Meet Up on the Playa!

Media Mecca is hosting a meet up for Burning Nerds on the playa in the 2011. We did it last year and we’re doing it again! You are invited! Please join us!

When: Friday, September 2, 2011

Where: Ashram Galactica (8:00 and Engagement)

Time: 2:30pm-5:00pm

Enjoy cocktails and an afternoon mixer with the academics and scholars
of Black Rock City.

Do you teach, conduct or write or work with research? Do you wish you could?
Then you are a Burning Nerd!

Come join us for libations, entertainment and presentations:

The 2011 Environmental Assessment process-Learning how to research BRC.
Updates on the Census-new questions in 2011-Where they are from and why!
The 2011 Non-Profit of Burning Man. How might academics collaborate?

OPEN MIC-for Burning Nerds to share their research!

PLEASE join us and RSVP to academics [at] burningman [dot] com

Academics URL:

See you there!

Next stops: San Antonio and Vegas

August 2011 is the month for hot climates. I’m currently in San Antonio for the Academy of Management annual meeting and will soon be in Las Vegas for the American Sociological Association annual meeting.

Today, Thur., Aug. 12, 2011, 3-5pm CDT. I’ll be co-presenting with Prof. Tor Hernes, Copenhagen Business School, on using organizational ethnography to teach organizational design for the OMT Teaching Roundtables at the Academy of Management (AOM) annual meeting, San Antonio Convention Center: Room 216 A & B, San Antonio, TX. This is a description provided by Prof. Hernes:
“In this roundtable, I will describe an elective course for MS students at the Copenhagen Business School. The course typically enrolls ~80 students from 5-10 different countries (mostly Scandinavia). We use the book Enabling Creative Chaos, Katherine Chen’s ethnographic account of the development of the Burning Man event (2009). Using the book provides a common “empirical” basis for discussion in class, which is a way to compensate for the lack of organizational experience among the students who are typically age 23-27. The idea, rather than work from OD as the balancing of structure, culture, systems and technology (which is typically assumed), is to view OD as the ongoing attempts at framing the sense-making of organizational members. We work from OD as the combined use of various types of material, social and cognitive mechanisms that organizers employ as they are confronted with dilemmas of organizational growth and change.”

Sun., Aug. 21, 2011, 11:30-12:10am PDT. For my book Enabling Creative Chaos, I will be accepting Honorable Mention for the 2011 Max Weber Award of the Organizations, Occupations, and Work (OOW) Section of the American Sociological Association, OOW business meeting, at the American Sociological Association annual meeting, Caesers Palace in Las Vegas, NV.

Fun facts: Fellow Harvard grad student turned Northwestern professor Celeste Watkins-Hayes is also an Honorable Mention recipient, and Martin Ruef, who was a teaching assistant for my first organizations class at Stanford and now is a Princeton professor, is the winner for his book on entrepreneurship.

Today is a great day for learning something new: Burning Man regionals working on CORE (Circle of Regional Effigies)

One of the aspects that I enjoy about Burning Man is the opportunity to learn something new, such as a new skill, experience, or practice. Burning Man’s constant experimentation makes such learning opportunities possible. One such experiment this year is the “Circle of Regional Effigies,” otherwise known as CORE, in which regionals from across the US and around the world will build a representative effigy to burn around the Man. Some regionals, like Las Vegas, have even made websites where you can learn more about their projects’ efforts and progress. These projects are channeling local communities’ efforts into producing more collaborative, participatory art to be shared both locally and at Burning Man.

Yesterday, my partner and I spent several hours working with other volunteers sandpapering, gluing, and nailing cut wood for the “Tree of Heaven,” which is the NYC regional effigy. Jesse Green and “Kat” Fitzgerald designed this installation of a wooden tree surrounded by benches representing different boroughs’ bridges. In a scene reminiscent of the Hawthorne studies’ wiring experiments, as a group, we also cut and connected wiring to LED lights for the base of the installation, which reproduces a public transportation map of subway lines. Under the guidance of other volunteers, I learned how to cut wires down, which other volunteers then connected to LED strips representing the different MTA subway lines and the NJ PATH trains. As the designated “quality control” person, I also learned how to determine whether wires were properly connected to the LED strips by testing the leads on a power supply. While such hands-on work came as second nature to my partner, who earned a PhD working in a lab and had eagerly brought his own tools for this occasion, for me, this new experience demystified some of the nuts and bolts of putting together an art project.

Later on, at dinner, my fortune cookie summarized my experiences for the day: “Today is a great day for learning something new.” My partner got the fortune “Really great people make you feel that you too can become great,” which was also an appropriate testament to collaborative projects such as CORE.