A TED responsibility

Chris Anderson of TED

The TED conference has given me a huge responsibility. They’ve handed me one of a small handful of press badges (as I understand it fewer than 10 are handed out every year). Regular tickets are $6,000 each and the conference was sold out more than a year ago (next year’s TED is already sold out).

They do put a major restraint on the press covering the event: no filming, or recording of sessions. Another restraint? No computers in the main session unless you want to sit in the back row. OK, I can live with that. So I doubt you’ll see a view of TED like I got of Chris Anderson, TED’s curator, in photo above, while he spoke at LeWeb.

But, really, this isn’t an event that generates news (except when last year Bill Gates released a bunch of mosquitos). If you’ve ever watched a TED Talk you’ll know that this isn’t about news, but is about expanding your mind. Coming up with new ideas. Hearing from people who are changing the world and being challenged to do the same with your own life.

In fact, they’ve asked me to not bring my computer or phones to the main sessions and just absorb the TED experience (Chris Anderson, the guy who runs TED, spoke at LeWeb a year ago and walked into the audience and told them all to close their laptops and listen, he really believes that we can’t learn if we’re multi-tasking and paying attention to email). As you might expect I’m thrilled at being asked to do this and I’m even going to report my time at the conference as vacation so that I won’t feel pressured to take care of Rackspace business while I’m there).

But when people invite you to a conference that costs everyone else $6,000 they are laying a huge responsibility to that person.

The question is, what’s the responsibility?

For me, I’m going to try to get as many interviews as I can outside of the main room. That’s one way of delivering value to you. But that’s just the baseline of the kind of responsibility that I’m feeling going into this. Can I step up my game this year? Can I improve the world my children are growing up in? That’s a little closer to the weight I feel through this gift.

Why is this such a big deal? Well, when I was first on musician Peter Himmelman’s show a couple of years ago I told him I try to live every day like a TED conference or a FOO Camp (O’Reilly’s famous conference where they invite a bunch of geeks to camp out over a weekend). I’ve been very fortunate to have had tons of great people in front of my camera lens (my off-the-cuff work is on YouTube, my pro work with Rocky Barbanica as cameraguy and producer is on building43).

That’s why I’m so excited and why I feel a ton of responsibility going into this event and I’ll try to bring you into the event as much as possible.

One thing, watch Chris Anderson’s Twitter account. He runs TED and is an inspiring figure in my life. He and his team has laid a heavy responsibility in front of me. How should I handle it? Here’s the schedule, who would you like me most to interview?