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BIL 2010 PARTICIPANTS - WELCOME

Date: 13-Feb-2010/19:28

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Today I attended the fantastic event BIL. It is an "un-conference", and was originally conceived as populist way of crashing/synergizing with the event known as TED).
You've certainly heard of TED. But though TED is awesome at spreading great ideas across the web, the speakers are by invite-only...and uninvited people must pay thousands of dollars to attend!!
The incomparable organizer Todd Huffman gave me a minute to make an announcement after the talks had finished. I said something along these lines:
Hi there. My name is Brian. I love open source, and started a web site to support it called hostilefork.com. I also love Wikipedia--and I love events like BIL. So if you are doing something awesome and write me, I'll do my best to offer any insights I can to help. My time is yours.
ALSO... I have an extra ten of these drinking glasses that need to find happy homes. As an added incentive, for each glass that is adopted I will donate $10 to BIL. So if you want to talk to someone technical--who will make time for you and your great idea, at no charge--find me and adopt a glass.
I hope to help you, but if for nothing else, do it for BIL!!
Yet while I and the other final announcers were speaking, the enthusiastic attendees were voluntarily packing up chairs. After all, we had to make our deadline for exiting the venue!! But I don't think hardly anyone could hear me, and I think "something about open source and a glass" is about the gist of what anyone got out of what I said. :)
Thus only four glasses were claimed by the time we left the pavilion for lunch. But as lunch was wrapping up and I was about to hand Todd the $40 and head on home... people began to express curiosity about what was up with the glasses. Suddenly they were in demand, and the tenth was even contested over who would get it! I'm glad that the result is that every glass found a home, and I could give $100 to a wonderful cause that I supported wholeheartedly all the way back to when I attended the first BIL two years ago!
SO IF YOU GOT A GLASS: My hope is that you will keep it, and some night you will be enjoying a drink and be reminded that "The Fork" humbly offers his time and insights free-of-charge to the very sort of good people who think BIL is important!!! (I want not only good ideas to flow, but also that we all be vigilant in ensuring there isn't an ever-increasing barrier to participation in that flow...)
MY PROJECTS: I know my WordPress theme is the default and lame, but if you look over in the right hand column you'll see I've tried to make pages for my various open source projects. The one I'm most excited about is BlackHighlighter, which I'd like to develop further. (I'm especially interested in changing the balance of power in communications between people with little influence who send messages to those who get a lot of messages...and my goal is to employ BlackHighlighter to the communications between the electorate and Congressional representatives.)
I'M OPEN TO YOUR IDEAS AND CRITIQUE: This site is still in its formative stages, and it's only one of my projects. But I did manage to get #1 Google rank for "hostile fork" and "hostilefork" and that makes me happy. (Because I want to STOP hostile forks, see my about page for more on my wish that open source developers push toward synergy, as if they were a company even though they are not!)
I invite you to talk with me about anything you're working on. Leave a comment and I'll write you back, or write me on Gmail... or follow me on Twitter.
Note I'd like to give thanks again to Todd, and to all the speakers and participants who gave their time the last two days. As much as I respect institutions and gatekeepers of clarity in knowledge, someone has to stand up and be the arXiv to the ACM... the Wikipedia to the Citizendium... the BIL to the TED!!

The Story behind the Glasses

These were a batch of 10 that had been in storage and difficult to give away, because the printer had screwed up in applying the third color (the white in the eyes):
Me and a fork glass.
I'd thought many times of just tossing them into the recycling, as they didn't meet spec. But BIL has revolutionary thinkers--who share stories like beer bottles being presciently designed as interlocking bricks to build houses! How could I be throwing out these perfectly functioning highball glasses?
Once my carpool arrived in Long Beach, I ponied up the paltry (not to mention purely optional) suggested BIL donation of $20. Then I noticed there was exactly $100 left in my wallet, and ten glasses in my backpack. An idea formed:
What if I suggested that I would donate $10 to BIL for each glass that people would agree to give a safe and happy home? I mean, why not? I could use a dry-erase marker to write my website on it and it would be like a "business" <cough> card!
The idea rolled around in my mind as I listened to the speakers. I hesitated, BUT a talk regarding the 4 steps to accomplishing "virtually anything" made me realize the actual difference between "I can't" and "I won't". Like Wikipedia, here was a case where I could--and more importantly should--lend financial support!
I'm very happy with the results. So thank you all!
Business Card from SXSW
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