AFTERBURN REPORT 2002
Like all Burning Man volunteer groups, the WebTeam depends on volunteers who donate their time and skills to help achieve the vision of the Burning Man organization. The WebTeam is responsible for the maintenance and growth of Burning Man's websites, and specifically supports the organization's internet voice and its desire to foster our year-round community. Although you may find some of your fellow burners in paid roles to help guide projects, volunteer expertise and contribution is what keeps the WebTeam moving forward.
Burningman.com has doubled yearly in size and complexity. For the past two years, a small volunteer team kept up with increasing needs. A few were geographically remote, but most team members lived in the SF Bay area. The team operated by consensus. Project responsibility was shared among numerous individuals, and even with the variety of skills we depend on - content editing, html coding, user-interface planning, and graphic arts - the unavailability of a single person was never a show-stopper.
The decentralized approach was not as successful for long-range planning and for keeping the big picture in view: addressing the unceasing growth of the website. Handling the day-to-day workflow monopolized attention, over longer-term goals like establishing stability in the websites' technical infrastructure. We also wanted to expand opportunities for remote volunteers to join our team.
So this past year we established a Skill Leads Staff, with regular meetings. It currently comprises SF area staff, along with Skill Leads for technical, content, and style issues. This subgroup is dedicated to addressing solutions for our ever-growing website, as well as helping establish stability with it's technical infrastructure. Website sections have Section Managers, who have project responsibility for maintenance and other activities in each section. And we utilized increasing numbers of remote volunteers. Unfortunately, some volunteers found that the time commitment was more than they could sustain, and we had difficulty keeping all the sections covered. However, the new structure comprised of the Skill Lead Staff and Section Managers should alleviate this problem to a degree.
The Webby awards are the Oscars of the World Wide Web. This past year, burningman.com was nominated for a Webby in the Community category, and was one of the five finalists chosen from the hundreds of contending websites. We didn't win, but at the awards ceremony we did get cheers from the audience. We're committed to developing a more community-based site to knock all the competition away in the future. Glory aside, the WebTeam had numerous solid accomplishments this year, all viewable from the website:
- 2001 AfterBurn Report
- 2001 Survey Results
- Tales from the Playa
- Expanded Regional Contacts section
- Expanded Art of Burning Man section
- Expanded Cafe info in Participate section
- New Yearround and Playa Calendars (linked to Regionals)
- Archive of Burning Man 2001 content
- Assisting with the launch of tickets.burningman.com
- Updated content for 2002 event preparation and participation (Survival Guide, Newsletter, Themecamp/art listing, 2002 Theme, Building Black Rock City)
We also had many behind-the-scenes accomplishments that help to support the site and our volunteer team:
- Installation, implementation and training of CVS, an application used to manage website code and media.
- Installation of a Perl-based Support Desk for logging and tracking all requested changes to the site.
- Utilization of a Wiki Web collaboration tool for WebTeam collaboration
- Development of a new workflow process for utilizing our local and remote volunteers
- Installation and testing of a WebTeam bulletin board system (BBS)
- Develop a PHP-based image gallery tool to display our Playa Artifacts collection
- Launch a PHP-based Burning Man Marketplace for improving our merchandise management and fulfillment.
- Improve, develop and enhance features within our Image Gallery
- Build a new BBS with an improved interface and functionality
- Improve scripts and dynamic features on the site
- Improve site-wide consistency in style and design
- Explore user-based research and discovery to increase community-driven content and features, either on burningman.com or on an entirely new website.