This is my first week back in the office after attending my first Burning Man Festival. My wife and I found it to be a powerful and inspiring experience. It's jaw-dropping to witness the amount of boundless engineering and creativity that people pour massive amounts of energy, time and money bringing to life for a week's time. The desert rockets from barren to the third most populous Nevada city, instantaneously. This year, 40,000 people came with no money or agenda to gather in the ancient lake bed.
It was interesting that when stripped of routine daily responsibility, how people assumed natural roles, like leaders, followers, chefs, or handimen. Even more impactful was how perfectly everything worked with 40,000 people self-managing themselves. Sorta like a real-life tag clouds. The experience did reinforce for me that communities can work amazingly well when given an open, clear space, full authority to manage themselves and when they have a powerful way to reward each other.
On another note, it was surprising to me to read the article that Dave sent to me about the Google guys using Burning Man as a recruiting event. At Burning Man everyone abandons their work ego. No one wants to talk or think about their career. Everyone is equal. For example, I learned later that one guy I drank coffee with had won three Academy Awards including work on Star Wars but when we talked he just shared which art he liked so far. I think it was the massive sculpture of the man on his hands and knees with gasoline pouring from his eyes into a pool of flame. That is, if I remember correctly.