And just to round off the week, BIL, the counter to TED: an open stage for ideas and stories, admission by donation, anyone can do one. The main BIL website shows that besides California, a lot have happened in Tunisia. Spaces are donated and so are typically warehouses, disused caverns of stations, theatres and other marginally appreciated volumes. There is one happening now in Vancouver, the unconference 'fully participant powered'. This is crowd funding done by turning up, by participating – the line between speaker and listener blurred, the conference driven by contributors.
As Michael Cummings said this morning on the radio, TED has jumped the shark, by which I take it that TED has become so establishment, so controlled and directed that the anarchic BIL has popped up to fill the void. We'd all like to listen to interesting people talking about what they are doing; I don't want to have to apply to attend a symposium and then pay a lot of money to go in person. One can watch each talk on line, but one still has to pass along a credit card number. Smart people can only talk to rich people? What is the point of that?
On Site review was established as an open venue where anyone could write for us if they had something really interesting to say: the only gatekeeper was the theme for each issue, and me, of course, but I can count on one hand the number of submissions that were, after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, turned away, and not for the ideas, but usually for their inadvertent racism, or their total ignorance of history. Somehow, On Site review never attracted shameless self-promoters or corporate types – there are plenty of other, more successful venues for that kind of architectural discussion. So I can see how BIL attracts participants that aren't even interested in being a TED talker, although the format is much the same. Someone stands up and speaks. Pecha Kucha for everybody. Now that is another open stage thing that was taken over by expensive admission tickets, sponsors and rules. Like Detroit Soup, I hope BIL never attracts corporate interest.