How To Do Burning Man? There's an App for That

By Whitney Phaneuf , written on August 29, 2012

From The News Desk

Burning Man operates on a gift economy. The only things for sale are ice and coffee, sold by the Burning Man organization. Everything else you better hope you brought with you, or have faith someone will gift it. In a world where people are constantly thinking, “What does this person want from me,” the dogma here is “What can I give to my people?” Gifts can be a cup of water, a lighter, or even a mobile app. The Time to Burn app was the gift of mobile developer Terry Grossman and Kate Houston, better know as Rockstar Librarian, and it offers users a quick reference to everything going on at Burning Man this week.

For the first time this year, the Time to Burn app teamed up with Rockstar Librarian’s DJ lineup schedule, and they ended up with a more comprehensive guide than the paper booklet distributed on-site by festival organizers. In previous years, the Rockstar Librarian guide was a PDF we printed out and combed through with a highlighter. The Time to Burn app changed all that.

There’s little cell or Internet service out here, but the Time to Burn app still serves me well. On the seven hour drive from San Francisco, my friends and I planned and favorited every event we wanted to attend. Last night, with no data on my iPhone, I could find out that at 9:00 pm the False Profit camp had its opening party with Ill Gates and other DJs. (Yes, there is a dubstep DJ named Ill Gates.)

There are four menu items on the app: Burn, Things To Do, Camps, and BRC. Burn contains the Survival Guide and Ten Principles, Things To Do is a calendar of events and DJ sets, Camps is an alphabetical list of every camp who puts on organized events, and BRC is a map of the festival.

Despite the hippy, raver, "Rich Kids of Instagram" reputation of Burning Man, the variety of activities demonstrates the diverse interests of Burners. The app places event and DJs into a Types tab that makes it easy to find whatever you’re into. Event categories range from Adult-oriented (yeah, kinky stuff) to kid-friendly activities.

I’ve favorited the third annual champagne tasting with deep house on Saturday, every DJ set Stanton Warriors will be playing, and Burn Wall Street on Friday, a mock up of the pillared façade of Wall Street surrounded by skyscrapers that promises to be “the biggest fire show you’ve ever seen.” After witnessing Crude Awakening in 2007, a 99 foot tall oil derrick that created a mushroom cloud when it exploded, the bar has been set high.