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emma persky

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BIL Conference - LON, LAX, SFO, LON in 100 Hours!

February 16th, 2009 · No Comments · Conferences, Insanity, Nights Out, Travel

The latest instalment of my crazy life took place on the west coast of the united states, a place generally quite close to my heart, not only for being geek mecca, but because I genuinely feel at home in San Francisco. But I jump ahead. The plan was a long weekend stateside at BIL Conference, a fantastic unconference style event full of real science geeks, artists, and generally incredibly clever people. The co-conspirators were two colleagues from both work and a social enterprise project I am working in called One Click Organisations

Friday lunchtime we were chauffeured to Virgin’s Terminal 3 at Heathrow courtesy of James (t) and treated to Premium Economy check in thanks to Charles’ (t) Silver Flying Club membership. Fortunately the traffic wasn’t too bad and we were spared sometime in Duty Free where James carried around my Globe Trotter whilst I rushed from shop to shop desperately trying to find a bag to match my dress, replacing the one I managed to leave at home (Classic, I know, but what can you do.) Eventually I settled on an awesome punk-like Burberry design, and parted with a horrendous sum of money, such is the life of an LA Socialite. But more on that later. 

When we landed in Los Angeles I discovered that the Small SUV I had rented for a few days was large enough to engulf my entire Ford KA, inside it’s body. The monster truck (a Nissan Rogue) was, however, quite pleasant to drive, and was a very pretty blue. 

BIL Conference itself was a bit of a blur, with James and I heading up to downtown Los Angles the first night for an evening of black tie partying, champagne, and debauchery at a Black Card Circle Foundation event. The night was full of insanity, as usual happens when Tara Hunt (t) and I are put in a room together: we were thrown off a bed whilst posing for a photographer because it wasn’t a “real bed” (how wonderfully existential), attempted to drink Courvoisier perfume, and I tried to bribe my way into a closed charity auction. All of this fuelled by vast quantities of free (or paid-for-in-the-ticket-price) alcohol. At the somewhat early close of the evening, we were due to be whisked away in a porn limo to The Standard (which happened to be the hotel we were staying in) for the after party on the roof. Somehow, our driver got mixed up, and we found ourselves in a Venice Beach beach front house, with a crate or so of champagne, awesome company, and even more debauchery. I can only assume that James took us back to the hotel in a taxi at some point, I don’t remember much after the second bottle of Veuve

The following day we were back at BIL where I presented my short talk on Democratic Source Development, a principle we developed in One Click for open source development which affords all members of the core development team an equal say in what happens. We finally ended up in a seaside bar chilling and chatting. What really set BIL apart from other similar events such as BarCamp was the type of people it attracted. Everyone was really top of their field with very few people in the barcamp stereotypes of web development and social media, more of a focus on scientists (with an interesting emphasis on neuroscience) and artists doing some incredibly creative work. There was much of talk about the crossover of art and science, future science and lots of very cutting edge work. An unmissable conference for anyone who is a real science geek. I really hope that BIL Global (to coincide with TED Global) in Oxford lives up to it’s forerunners - yes this is an offer to help in the planning and running of that conference, I’ve been totally sold!

I finished my long weekend with a flying 28 hour visit to San Francisco where I was hosted by the the wonderful Tara Hunt and Jen Myronuk (t). I wish my stay with them could have been longer, but work (and the fact I was now eating into holiday days) beckoned me back to the UK. I spent my final morning working at Citizen Space, a co-working founded by Tara, and frequented by SF’s top geeks, an excellent place to spend a working day. In fact, the announcement for BarCampLondon tickets was sent from Citizen Space, an apt location given the history of BarCamp.

On return to the UK I met a very interest photographer on the plane with whom I chatted for a few hours before drifting to sleep in my 4 seat, economy class bed, thanks to Virgin Atlantic economy saving measure of closing the middle section of the plane for takeoff, allowing the quickest of us to make our move on entire rows once the seat belt sign had been switched off.

And all of this in just in some 100 hours! Where to next? Check my dopplr!

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