BIL Conference Vancouver

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BIL is TED’s cousin and wherever the TED Conference goes, BIL follows. However, unlike TED’s exclusivity, BIL has a ‘pay what you can’ donation system and it also follows the very welcoming “unconference” model.


What is an unconference? It’s a free-form conference where anyone can be a speaker and the schedule isn’t even created until attendees arrive and put their hat into the ring. It’s also the reason why I have this blog today (thanks to inspiration from similar events in Vancouver in 2006).

Most of you have heard of TED or watched the talks online, but do you know about BIL, the quirky, populist, unconference taking place nearby? Open to the public and fully participant powered, BIL features a wild mix of technologists, scientists, artists, hackers, and those with a passion for community awareness.

BIL emerged from a community of people who aspire to change the world for the better- everyone is on equal standing and we meet to share ideas, problems that need solving, and discoveries we are excited about with a quite diverse national and international crowd. Our attendees are our speakers and our speakers are our attendees and in true unconference style, attendees are responsible for shaping the conference itself through their participation. [About BIL]

Do you want to talk about transit, dog parks, sustainability, LEGO, 3D printing, the DTES, knitting, mobile apps? Bring your topic to BIL and you might just become a speaker.

The first unconference I attended was in Vancouver, back in 2006. It’s where I met amazing people like Kris Krug, Boris Mann, John Biehler, and many others who not only became leaders in the Vancouver tech space but also became friends. It put the “social” in social media for me at an early stage in my career especially since it provided my first liveblogging experience.

To attend BIL all you need to do is sign up and offer up a donation, which could be $5 or $2000. It’s taking place 8:00am to 6:00pm on Saturday, March 22nd and Sunday, March 23rd at Five Sixty (560 Seymour St) in Vancouver. Talks begin at 10:00am but setup of exhibits and art begins at 8:00am.

Be prepared to be involved. If you’re not a speaker, then ask questions, get some coffee, arrange some chairs or share your thoughts on social media. Anyone can help and everyone should help. If you want to formally sign up as a volunteer you can do that too.

There will be parties (awesome networking opportunities) on Friday and Saturday, and you’ll probably fall in love with the unconference format like I did almost ten years ago. More information is available online and on Facebook.

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