Michael Mikel (Danger Ranger)
Founding Board Member, Burning Man Project
"Michael Mikel is both an historian and a futurist with an interest in technology and social communities. Today, he serves Burning Man as a Founding Board Member of the Burning Man Project, Director of Advanced Social Systems, Ambassador and as a member of the Philosophical Center. He was a co-founder of Burning Man which he joined in 1988, and a co-founder of Black Rock City, LLC in 1999. Michael was instrumental in bringing the event to the Black Rock Desert, and is responsible for a number of Burning Man ‘firsts.’ In 1991 his concept car, the “5:04 PM” was the first art car at Burning Man. In 1992 he edited the first on-site newspaper, and also founded the Black Rock Rangers. In 1995, he developed the logo design which has become the symbol of the Burning Man community. He introduced containerized storage and transport in 1997, and instituted the first perimeter radar system for Black Rock City in 2000. In 2001 he visited regional groups across America as an ambassador for Burning Man. In 2008 he managed the development of Burning Man’s presence in the virtual world of Second Life.
Prior to Burning Man, Michael was involved with numerous San Francisco social, countercultural and technological institutions. Michael began his career in the 1970s as an electromechanical systems engineer for Fairchild Semiconductor, working on precursors of the personal computer in nascent Silicon Valley. In the early 80s, he advised Caltrans on intelligent freeway systems in Los Angeles, developed the first robotic assembly line for Apple Computer’s Fremont assembly plant in 1986, and in 1987, was a co-founder of San Francisco’s first tech startup, Jasmine Technology. As a content contributor and social catalyst, his work influenced the founders of many media and technology startups, including Wired, Boing-Boing, Laughing Squid, and the Internet Archive. With a keen interest in culture jamming, he was a pivotal member of the Cacophony Society, a crew member of Survival Research Labs machine performance group and a former member of the underground Billboard Liberation Front.
As an historian, Michael has contributed his papers, printed materials and personal artifacts from the Cacophony Society and Burning Man to numerous archives including The San Francisco Main Library, the Bancroft Library in Berkeley, the Special Collections archive at the University of Nevada- Reno, and extensively to the Nevada Museum of Art’s Center for Art & Environment.
"In order for this planet to survive we need to reach thousands…hundreds of thousands. We are giving our lives to it. It's that important."
Michael lives with his wife, Dusty, in San Francisco and Reno, Nevada. He is best known by his playa persona "Danger Ranger"."