BIL Conference

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BIL is an unconference organized and observed by the participants. It was founded in 2007[1] by Cody Marx Bailey, Todd Huffman, Bill Erickson and others who volunteered to help with the idea.

BIL started as an unaffiliated unconference satellite to TED’s structured ‘invite only’ paid conference. BIL is an open, self-organizing, emergent arts, science, society, and technology conference. Anyone can come, and anyone is able to sign-up to speak, limited only by space and time.[2] The unconference structure allows for egalitarian treatment of anyone in any role; everyone is encouraged to participate where they can, whether that's clean up, set up, getting coffee, listening, AV work, blogging the conference, registration, etc.


BIL’s mission statement: “BIL is an open, self-organizing, emergent, arts, science, society, and technology unconference.”[citation needed]

There is no permanent staff or location, no one that organizes or speaks is paid, and even the acronym changes to reflect the will of the participants.[3]


The name BIL was proposed as it was catchy, short, and unclaimed. It also humorously referenced the 1989 film Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.[4]

The week of BIL 2008, the number of RSVPs had eclipsed the space limitations and the group was forced to announce that they were full. Subsequent BILs have been hosted in Long Beach,[5] Vancouver,[6] and San Francisco, timed with TED whenever they can.[7] BIL went on to have conferences worldwide - Afghanistan, India, England, France, Canada and Tunisia, to name a few.[8] There are also subject-focused variants such as BIL:PIL mirroring TEDMED, and JIL for women.[4]

After the first BIL, the TED organization contacted BIL leaders for advice on what later became their TEDx brand for individuals hosting their own versions of TED. They launched 3 months after the 2nd BIL. The core difference between TEDx and BIL is the amount of overhead and restrictions. TEDx requires that each applicant be thoroughly screened and already have conference experience; thus, TEDx is willing to exclude people.[9]


  1. ^ Gagnier, C. (205, April 17, updated May 25) “A BIL and TED Excellent Adventure”, Huffington Post, retrieved from on February 25, 2015
  2. ^ Becker, R. (2012, Mar 03). “Here's a concept: Populism; where the TED conference is elitist, the BIL is inclusive -- and very quirky.” Los Angeles Times, D.4. Retrieved from on February 25, 2015
  3. ^ “On the Road, There Will Be Robots”, NPR, March 4, 2008 7:00 AM ET. Retrieved February 25, 2015 (podcast)
  4. ^ a b Orden, E. (2011, March 1). “For BIL, Tagging Along With TED Proves to Be an Excellent Adventure”, Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from on February 25, 2015
  5. ^ Bennet, Sarah. (2013, March 1). “In The Spirit of TED, BIL Conference Takes Downtown Long Beach”, Long Beach Post Retrieved from on February 25, 2015
  6. ^ Stephen Hui, “BIL and TED bring wildly different conferences to Vancouver” The Georgia Straight, March 11th, 2014
  7. ^ "Social Entrepreneurship Conferences 101: The Where and What". Huffington Post. August 16, 2012.
  8. ^ Karlin, Susan. "TED'S UPSTART SIBLING, BIL, GETS UNDERWAY IN L.A." Fast Company. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  9. ^ O'Brien, C. (2013, Feb 26). “IDEAS; TED confab is speaking to the masses -- and drawing scorn; annual conference has boomed, but some call it elitist and say it dumbs down subjects.” Los Angeles Times, B.1. Retrieved from on February 25, 2015

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