BIL Conference 2012 – In Retrospect

I recently wrote about my experience at BIL 2011 in this article, but I absolutely have to update and tell you about BIL Conference 2012 – mainly because of how much it exceeded my expectations.

Simone and Alexis Not Pictured!

First off, there were more people in attendance.  I believe we clocked in at over 800(!) people.  It seems our message is truly beginning to spread and pick up speed, which is no surprise – alot has happened since March of 2011.

We are finally seeing the rise of the “Internet voice”, as made evident by the huge amount of activism by Twitter, Anonymous, Occupy Wall Street, and many more connectivity-based movements.  People are starting to step away from the computer (with iPhone or Droid still firmly in hand) and take to the streets.  Information technologies are making people realize how much work there is to do to fix the problems our society still faces.  Yet, many people that want and can do something to help don’t know where to turn.  I didn’t.  Before connecting with the people at BIL, I had motivation and knew what I wanted to do, but didn’t know there were thousands of other people that had the same ideas.

BIL, by nature, is a very geeky event.  As a counter-culture shadow conference that not-so-coincidentally occurs right around TED, you would expect this.  And by nature, these people don’t have alot of free time for social interaction – and most find the usual “club and bar scene” to be trite and superficial (myself included).  The beauty in BIL is that it gives the nerdy, quirky, subversive, think-way-the-fuck-outside-the-box types a singular event to come and talk about all the insanely cool projects they’ve been working on in the past year.

New additions this year included:

  • Space Stage, where SpaceX and XCOR showed off some very cool, privately funded space vehicles. A
  • Burning-Man-esque….dodecahedron? (It’s a geometric shape I can’t describe in human language).  People were relaxing and singing karaoke when they needed a mind-rest from talks.
  • Massage/Cupping station.
  • Speed Dating and Relationship Discussions in the Red Room.
  • College Of Lockpicking
  • Crashspace 3D Printing Demonstration
  • Halcyon Molecular DNA microscope
  • BIL2012 Anthem!
  • Performances by Max Lugavere and Ancient Lasers

At the closing ceremony, Reichart auctioned off a chance to sit in on a live reading of Futurama, with the full cast (as well as himself and Simone for dates).  Their combined sexiness helped put a deposit for BIL2013! Maria Entraigues and myself also performed the first ever “BIL Anthem” – and we got Aubrey de Grey to jump on stage and bust out a smooth 16 bar rap verse about “biology, nanotechnology, quantum computing, more biology…”  That was definitely a fitting way to end the conference.  Special thanks to Reichart, Maria, Aubrey and Simone for making that happen with 4 days notice!

In conclusion, BIL expanded my mind and now I have a thirst for knowledge – and meeting the people who possess it. I know I’m leaving out tons of amazing people I met, and I apologize in advance.  More posts coming!  I have a big list of similar conferences, concerts, and events like BIL in my Google Docs, and I hope to check a few dozen off the list by the time 2012 is over.