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Burning Man’s influence in Silicon Valley

Amid the huge crowds attending the Burning Man festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert are thousands of people taking a break from their Silicon Valley jobs. (Image credit: U.S. Bureau of Land Management)

Sep 7 2018

Posted In:

Faculty, In the News

Article Written by Melissa De Witte

"Every August, fire-breathing dancers, costumed performers and free-thinking artists gather in the Nevada desert to celebrate Burning Man, a countercultural event devoted to communal living, radical art and self-expression.

Amid the artists and free thinkers are thousands of information technologists, computer programmers and Silicon Valley executives who incorporate parts of the experience into their work cultures, according to Stanford communication Professor Fred Turner. 

Turner, who is the Harry and Norman Chandler Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University, has studied Burning Man’s appeal within the tech industry for over a decade. In a 2009 paper published in New Media & Society, Turner described how the event has become a key site for product ideation for the Bay Area’s tech industries. 

Turner has also argued that elements of the Burning Man world – such as its principles of participation, communal effort and radical inclusion – have driven the collaborative work culture celebrated within Silicon Valley tech firms. For many working in the industry and elsewhere, Burning Man’s principles offer a new type of spirituality akin to the early Puritan settlers, Turner said. 

Stanford News Service interviewed Turner about his research on Burning Man, the people who follow Burning Man’s principles, who are also known as “Burners,” and the event’s influence in the tech industry."

 

Read the full article at Stanford News