In short, BIL is an open, self-organizing, emergent, arts, science, society and technology unconference inspired by the highly-restrictive TED Conference. In many ways, BIL is the analog to TED. While it started out being held near the famous TED Conference during the trailing weekend, it has grown to a stand alone unconference anywhere self-organizing altruistic change makers consciously come together.
The concept of the BIL Conference started in late November 2007, when Cody Marx Bailey proposed the idea of going out to Monterey, CA and crashing the TED Conference to Todd Huffman and Bill Erickson. The idea was to simply get a group of people to make the pilgrimage and hang around the area the TED’sters would be schmoozing at night. As the group quickly snowballed from a handful of people to nearly thirty in a matter of weeks, the decision to hold our own unconference seemed, well, obvious.
Todd Huffman and Reichart Von Wolfsheild proposed the name BIL, as it was catchy, short and best of all, unclaimed. It also had a bit of comedic value to take away some of the seriousness as it referenced the most excellent Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
Most of the planning was done through the open-to-the-public wiki hosted by PBWiki. This allowed anyone interested in making something cool happen able to contribute. Soon, Alexis Bright, Tyler Emerson (along with the Singularity Institute), Emi Joy, and Simone Syed would begin to play a major part as the potential attendance neared closer and closer to the fire marshal’s limit on the space that was reserved.
The week of TED 2008, the number of RSVPs had eclipsed the space limitations and the group was forced to spread the word that we could not take in any more attendees. BIL at that point had grown larger than anyone had expected.
BIL 2009 was held on the campus of California State University at Long Beach and with over 100 speakers and 500 participants, doubling the size the previous year.
In 2010, BIL was hosted at the Museum of Latin American Art, where the JIL, a sub conference of BIL, was held that centered around women’s studies.
2011 and 2012 marked the biggest and grandest venue to date. These two years were hosted by the RMS Queen Mary. Three levels and over 25,000 square foot of idea sharing.
2013 Downtown Long Beach Masonic Center
In 2014, TED moved from Long Beach to Vancouver, so as the movie went, BIL followed.