What was once just a Seattle event — first started by Brady Forrest of O’Reilly Media and Bre Pettis of Etsy.com in 2006 — Ignite has grown to become an ongoing series of International geek gatherings where the brightest minds get five minutes of stage time to make their point.

Today marks the start of Ignite’s most ambitious endeavor to date: Global Ignite Week. This week-long Ignite extravaganza has been eight months in the making and is a first of its kind.

You can find an Ignite event to attend or watch online, but either way you’ll want to familiarize with the movement that is Ignite. To catch you up to speed, we’ve put together a list of reasons why Global Ignite Week (@ignite) should be on your radar.

10 Reasons to Attend or Watch Online

1. Be a part of history in the making

While Ignite has been around since 2006, this year’s coordinated Global Ignite Week initiative is a first of its kind — with more than 12,000 people slated to attend 72 events spanning six continents — that’s bound to become the talk of the Web over the coming week, and perhaps after.

2. It’s global

We’ve already mentioned that events are taking place in six continents, but given that that Ignite is one hundred percent volunteer organized we think it’s remarkable that this single week will encompass events happening in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and even Africa. Six out of seven is no small feat, but we hear that next year we could even see Ignite events in Antarctica.

3. No keynotes

Trust us, this is a pro. Instead of putting a few special guests on a pedestal for a keynote speech or panel, Ignite events are structured such that all presenters are equal. All speakers are treated the same, alloted the same amount of time, and must follow the same set of rules. Still, some of the greatest minds from all walks of life participate and get their five minutes under the spotlight.

4. Talks are only 5 minutes (hint: you won’t get bored)

Ignite is perhaps the most structured event we know of that still manages to inspire creative thinking. Each presenter is limited to five minutes and there is absolutely no wiggle room. None. Period.

5. Presentation slides auto-advance

In order to up the challenge factor, Ignite speakers are only alloted 20 slides. The catch is that each slide auto-advances after 15 seconds, regardless of whether or not the presenter has finished their thought. This makes for an atmosphere that crackles with intensity and forces presenters to stay on topic and get their points across quickly and succinctly (or be left behind by their own slides).

6. It’s pitch-free

As conference goers, we all always fear that conference sessions will derail into tedious and unwanted pitch fests. Fear not! Ignite is a pitch-free zone and talks are guaranteed to encompass an array of topics like the above example, How To Work a Crowd.

7. There’s booze

Event organizers — volunteers though they may be — are still tasked to find venues that have bars. Enough said.

8. There’s science fair-like contests

At some Ignites, organizers will opt to include a contest portion in addition to the standard five minute talks. Contests vary depending on location but they’re meant to be activity-based exercises with rules that inspire creativity and yet make winning a challenge. Contests from years past include egg slams, Popsicle-stick bridge contests, paper airplane challenges, and cupcake contests.

9. Video is live streamed to the Web (and archived)

Even if you can’t make it out to the Ignite event in your neighborhood, you can tune into the Ignite events from all areas as each local event will be live streaming their talks to the web. You can turn to Ignite’s recently unveiled video site to eavesdrop on sessions happening around the world or catch up on popular talks from previous events.

10. You can unlock a Foursquare badge

The Foursquare badge is starting to become choice du’jour for the hidden gem of any geeky event and Ignite is no different. If you’re attending an event in person and check-in on Foursquare, you’ll be welcomed with a custom Ignite Foursquare badge. As any Foursquare fanatic knows, each badge is like a trophy that highlights your adventurous nature.

[Img credits: LaughingSquid, Yukon White LightNYTVF]

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