As we roam the grid enjoying Winterfaire in Second Life, we wanted to take a moment to update you on some of what we did and learned at a different Resident-created event this year, Burning Life. The 6th annual Burning Life festival of fire, art and community took place from Sept 27 through Oct 5, 2008.
First, we would like to extend our appreciation to all the Residents who did such amazing work creating an environment that felt unique, held true to it’s real-life inspiration, and still used Second Life’s wonderful properties to full advantage.
Much of what we report here builds on the Resident, Builder, Volunteer and Ranger surveys, conducted in part so we would be able to learn how we might improve Burning Life next year. We’ve learned a lot this year as the event grew in scale and ambition, and so we share those revelations to continue to build upon the legacy of Resident Burners before us.
Let’s start with some new things we tried this year:
Co-Community hosting with the Burning Man organization, which enabled the following:
- A Founder’s Interview in center camp with Philip Linden, Larry Harvey (Founder of Burning Man), Danger Ranger (Founder of the BM Ranger program) and Dusty Linden (a Burning Life organizer and Old-Time Burner)
- A partnership with Burning Man Information Radio that brought sounds of the Nevada event to Second Life
- A link on the Burning Man website and several mentions in their email newsletters, inviting the global Burning Man community to extend their experience into Second Life.
- Official designation of Burning Life as a Burning Man Regional, which is a worldwide network of year-round, local, Burning Man communities.
- A separate Burning Life micro-website in the secondlife.com domain, to help explain the event, provide a SLurl list of places to visit, and display a running list of events.
- We were also able to keep improved traffic statistics with new web and data warehouse analytics. This is to help us plan for better event design, layout and traffic management for next year.
- Use of an Event-only custom last name (Burner).
During the week, Burning Life was visited by over 25,000 of you, for about 42,000 hours, with an average of 36 minutes per visit.
To put that into context, almost 2% of all Second Life Residents came to Burning Life during the week. On a daily basis, an average of 4200 visitors came, with a high of 5213 on the 29th, the first Sunday of the event.
US Residents led the way with 59% with UK second with 9%. Germany and the Netherlands represented 7% and 4% respectively.
- Email Invitation to the Burning Man community: These were sent before Burning Life but after Burning Man, and many Burners reported that they did not look closely at Burning Man communications after the event–precisely when we sent the invitation email! Next year, we will try to send the invitation letter before Burning Man, then reinforce with follow ups later.
- Direct Slurl: for curious people unfamiliar with Second Life, we need to do a better job providing context, and setting expectations along the entire signup path, from clicking a web link to getting inworld.
- No matter where they start out on a region, people are social. At Burning Life, they kept gathering around center camp, which makes everyone feel like they are part of a happening, but degrades performance in that spot. We need to try different strategies to spread out natural gathering places to optimize the experience for everyone.
Resident Survey Results: Lots of 1st Time participants made this year’s Burning Life a success.
To our surprise, a significant number of the builders, volunteers and Rangers who created such a successful event were doing it for the first time! It is a testament to the legacy created by earlier Burners, as well as the influx of new ideas and creativity every year. And, though Linden Lab needs to improve its events listing and the ability for builders to draw people to their creations, over 80% of them have indicated a desire to participate again next year.
Visitors: For 53% it was their first Burning Life. Visitors heard about Burning Life through a variety of sources (including friends, landmarks and search) but the most popular was the Second Life Log-In page. 82% of visitors said they wanted to take a more active role next year, which is exciting feedback in turning curious visitors into engaged participants next year.
Volunteer Organizers: The surprising stat— this was the first volunteer experience for 65% of them. The feedback on the core organizing team and the team leaders were very positive.
Builders: Remarkably, 76% said it was their first Burning Life experience. 85% said their experience was good or excellent, and 81% rated the organization of the event as good or excellent. Areas of improvement center around getting the word out about their builds to a wider audience. They wanted a better events calendar, a way to create plot-level landmarks, and better uses of group chat. Great news for next year: 91% want to be included next year, and 77% said they wanted to be contacted about ongoing building and creation events throughout the year.
Rangers: The Rangers are a community mediating group that evolved at the real-life Burning Man event. Again, 78% said this was their first experience with Burning Life, and apparently they enjoyed it, because 92% said they would participate next year.
A lot of credit goes to Dusty Linden and the core team’s training, with 91% rating the Ranger training program as excellent, and 85% saying both that they felt well supported by fellow Rangers and that the communication channels were effective. Areas of improvement were to create social breaks for Rangers and make sure shift schedules are completed in advance of the event.
Overall, next year we will improve our surveying of Residents at the event or just afterward, especially for volunteers and visitors. We also recognize that the first day traffic was overwhelming, and we’ll need to be more clever about how we spread out 1st location points to minimize lag and expand the opportunity to enjoy more of the exhibits.
Visit the Burning Life Playa
If you missed Burning Life and would like to learn more about it, you can get a jump on next year by visiting the year-round “What is Burning Life?” installation or Center Camp, and exploring two regions, inworld, all year long!
SLurl: Deep Hole /162/57/23
More info on the Burning Life Web Site
The Afterburn Art Project is now happening in which we reprise some wonderful art installations from Burning Life ’08 for your year-round enjoyment. Read more at the Burning Life site.