Burning Man as PoSR, a Dynamic Cultural Structure

by Sally Applin

Last night I had a discussion with @interdome on Twitter. I’ll post it at the end of this piece, but what I think he was pondering was that non-academic press have a hard time with capturing the Burning Man culture and write that they have captured the culture when they have only partially done so, or captured one aspect of it.

I wrote that many might do so, but that that at Burning Man, there are different experiences, different burns, different years, different dynamics, and different people at Burning Man, and therefore the cultural dynamic of the event changes every year.

When we look at our research on PolySocial Reality (PoSR), we are looking at relationships between people, people and machines and machines to machines, and how the structure of those relationships change over time. While PoSR is the framework for the network of this, there are individual separate instances of PoSR with each communication attempt–and the structure of PoSR overall changes as the dynamics change in the communication.

This is also true for Burning Man. Each year, Burning Man is made up of a collection of people who come together at a particular time in a particular place. The culture of the event is the culture of that group for that Burn. To say that each year is the same, after 20+ years of an event, isn’t exactly accurate. Culture is dynamic and changes, and thus each instance of Burning Man could be considered as a temporary instance of PoSR within an overall structure of relationships that form and dissolve.

©2014-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

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