Today, at 2:30 Pm, we will freeze for five minutes, which will be interesting, even more so because we are a human copy of an dispersed situated knowledge action learned by a fragmented node community (the Internet). I am sitting now, surrounded by those about to participate in the event. There are a lot of Burning Man people (Burners), and some older people, hippie types. The rest are young, reasonably trendy, and of college or high school age. We start in a park down the street from Powell's bookstore. It's by the metal elephant statue that everyone's always taking tourist photos of. There's no leader yet present, but we all know each other has the same thing in common, so anyone can talk to anyone, really.
Then a woman appears. She's the same one I saw this summer at a Burner retreat up in some part of the Oregon forest. Great, almost drunken charisma. Boisterous in her leadership. No need for a microphone. Takes a position of power as she arrives, standing up on the tallest stone platform she can find.
We set our synch the time on our cell phones and then turn them to silent. One alarm for 3:15 pm, the next for 3:20. We leave the area and head towards the area in front of Powell's bookstore in small groups, so that we do not look like we are arriving there en masse. We situate ourselves and do everyday things until our cell phones buzz in our pockets and we freeze where we are.
It is strangely silent. I can't see anything because my eyes are glued to the bike rack in front of me, but I can see movement slowing down in front of me. Traffic becomes eerie. People walk through the frozen people, dazed. There are pictures being taken, and videocameras.
Then the cell phones vibrate again, and we all leave randomly, without smiles amongst ourselves, which is kind of a let-down. It just becomes this strange repressed secret. We've been told not to cheer or all leave at once, so we don't, but it still feels awkward. A guy interviews me from Oregonlive.com. I tell him I've been following these movements for a while, and he films me with a little digital camera attached to a cheap microphone.
Of course this could not really happen if it were not for technology. It was very herd-like, and I felt slightly empty afterwards. It was also very meditative...I have no more else to say about this, except perhaps a quote from a blog on conversationagent.com, and that's that "stories are sticky, especially when they present us with information we can identify with".
In a global economy, everything is local. This is the age of participation.