Digital nomads, innovation and Burning Man. What’s the story?

By Grant Hall

I’ve lived a fairly nomadic life since 2003, when I packed my bags and headed to Europe seeking personal fulfillment through travel and work. In 2014 I became a digital nomad (DN), whereby modern technologies enabled me to work for myself rather than others, at times and in places of my own choosing, and on projects that interested me.

In the course of my travels, I’ve had hundreds of conversations with fellow DNs, and among the discussions about DN hotspots, negotiating airport customs procedures, and where one can find decent wi-fi on the Cambodian coast, we’ve also talked about what festivals we’ve been to, or plan to go to. This isn’t surprising, as DNs are characteristically motivated to become DNs so that they can enjoy more lifestyle pleasures, such as travelling to festivals.

Burning Man is particularly popular with DNs. For many DNs, being ‘a burner’ is a badge of honor, whilst for many others, it sits high on the desires list. Many entrepreneurs, DN and non-DN alike, have benefited from attending Burning Man.  As Cynthia Johnson explained in her article for Entrepreneur Asia Pacific titled Radical Inclusion: How Burning Man is Helping Create a New Breed of Entrepreneurs“entrepreneurs and others are taking what they learn at Burning Man and applying it to other situations”, before proposing that Burning Man is potentially creating a more “inclusive, community-building” kind of entrepreneur. Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Tony Hsieh, Mark Zuckerberg, Alexis Ohanian, Jeff Bezos, Drew Houston and Elon Musk (who is quoted as saying “Burning Man is Silicon Valley”) are among some of the more well-known entrepreneurs who have attended Burning Man. There are many articles and blog posts written by entrepreneurs and digital nomads, who discuss how their Burning Man experience has contributed to their professional aims. Conversations I’ve had with burners indicate that the Burning Man experience is characteristically a transformational and boundary expanding one, which can subsequently support the development of an individuals creative and innovative capacities.

I find it intriguing that a festival can act as a fertile ground for innovation and as such, I want to find out how and why this is so.

To do this, I’ve embarked on a research journey, and I’m inviting DN burners who work in innovation intensive roles or industries to contribute to the research. If this is you, and you are interested in being interviewed about your experience, please help me out by clicking here to complete a short survey (it will only take you two or three minutes). With your help, I hope to be able to trace the ripple effects of Burning Man within the default business world, and subsequently across the planet!

To learn more about the research project, click here.

To read an academic paper about DNs I recently had published, click here.

Image credit is listed on the next page.

survey callout

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