Burningman 2005: Projects

What are we doing this year, Wizzard?
      What are we doing this year, Wizzard?
            What are we doing this year, Wizzard?
                  What are we doing this year, Wizzard?
                        What are we doing this year, Wizzard?
                              What are we doing this year, Wizzard?

I blame it on Larry

From: "wizzard"
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2005 
Subject: Announcing: Project X 

This was announced at last night's planning meeting. As promised, here 
are the details: 

I'm blaming it all on Larry. 

A couple months ago, when Larry and I went to the sunday art meeting 
(just as Borg2 was getting started), I said I was dissapointed that 
there wasn't someone with a better project than mine, someone to fight 
me over the BIG regional project. Larry asked if I'd really be able to 
be subordinate to someone else. I hesitated but said if I thought it 
was a good plan and it was a solid person, I'd be able to be a 
follower-albeit, I'd probably try to lead some portion of it. 

Just before he left for New York*, Larry told me to put up or shut up. 

He challenged me to be a leader for a project I don't have control of. 
He convinced me that the person running the project is competent and 
has a plan for a large and impressive playa project. 

I accepted his challenge. 

On Monday (Valentine's Day), I got a phone call. I can't say 
everything that was told to me, but I can reveal these points: 

- The caller is conducting a research study of team effectiveness in 
the presence of ambiguity. His name is Joe Priff. I believe he is a 
professor at a local university. 

- This person has been coming Burning Man for years. 

- I was contacted because of my passion for wood-burning fires and my 
spearheading the success of the Pagoda project last year. 

- I was asked if I'd be interested in participating in a burnable art 
project as a point of contact with the BS Silicon and the BM Org and 
the facilitator of this study. 

- Because this is a study of effectiveness in the presence of 
ambiguity, no one, including myself, will have all the details of the 
final project, and information will be released on a need-to-know 
basis a little at a time. That means that I have no idea what we're 
being asked to construct, when it'll be constructed, or how, only that 
most of the work will be done on the playa, with some prep work done 
ahead of time similar to last year. 

- I don't know the full scope and size of the project, but was told 
that it would be similar to last year's project. Whether that means 
size, complexity, materials, skill sets, whatever, I don't know. 

- Because of the nature of this study, everyone involved will be 
required to maintain strict confidentiality about their involvement in 
the project and what they've been asked to do (if anything). That 
means you can't talk about this to anyone unless you're required to do so. 

- Joe has set up a Yahoo! Group for people interested in 
participating. There won't be any public meetings and very little 
email traffic - most of it coming from Joe. This Yahoo! Group will 
have a database set up for people to outline their skills and possible 
contributions, and from this list, people will be chosen to 
participate based on their responses and the projects' needs. 
(Please follow this link and request to join if interested.) 

- Every part of the project will be taken care of by our group, except 
for the design of the project. (The final design has apparently 
already been determined.) We'll be responsible for a modest amount of 
fundraising, purchasing materials, preparation, transportation and 
final on-playa construction. (They're not funding us because that 
would skew the dynamics they're planning to study and the amount of 
money needed will be considerably less than last year.) 

- NOT everyone that volunteers will be able to participate. I've been 
told the study needs to be limited to a specific number of people and 
participants will be selected based on what they can contribute. I 
have a feeling that we're just one of two or three groups being asked 
to do this as part of a controlled blind study. It almost sounded like 
there might there be some unspecified compensation later. 


I was also sent this as an explanation for the project and was asked 
to atach it to the project announcement. (If anyone has a f**king clue 
what this has to do with a large burnable art project explain it to me.) 

Joe's Description of the project: 
The Volante Project: Effectiveness in the Presence of Ambiguity (VEPA) 

In common conversation, ambiguity is a negative term applied to a 
vague or equivocal _expression when precision would be more useful. 
Sometimes, however, intentional ambiguity in literature can be a 
powerful device, leaving something undetermined in order to open up 
multiple possible meanings. When we refer to literary ambiguity, we 
refer to any wording, action, or symbol that can be read in divergent 

For example, the rules of grammar exist to allow a structure of words 
to be created that has a single meaning, i.e. to be unambiguous. Here 
is an ungrammatical sentence that was an actual warning notice at the 
bottom of an escalator: :"Dogs must be carried on the escalator". What 
does this mean? Are you allowed to ride on the escalator without a dog 
in your arms? But consider this, an _expression in a given context is 
ambiguous (or is used ambiguously) if and only if it is misleading or 
potentially misleading because it is hard to determine which of a 
number of possible meanings is intended in that context. More 
specifically, amphibologia occurs where a word has two or more 
possible word classes. For example, in "BILL POSTERS WILL BE 
PROSECUTED," the words "BILL POSTERS" could be either adjective and 
common noun or a proper name. 

In global satellite navigation technology, ambiguity refers to the 
initial bias in the carrier-phase observation of an arbitrary number 
of wave cycles; thus, the unknown integral number of cycles of the 
reconstructed carrier phase contained in an unbroken set of 
measurements from a single satellite that pass a single receiver is 
often unknown. Simply put, the quality of having more than one 
possible meaning or interpretation (in this case ambiguity between 
more than one valid goal within a set of coordinates) effects the goal 
of achieving the least advantageous affects that will be placed upon a 
competitor's declaration. 

*Larry-A.K.A. Ember is helping out with Cristo's "Gates" project in 
NYC. I'm jealous!