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?

Comments

  1. I've never seen a bad TED talk, and can say the same about you.

    Sometimes your video subjects are way out in front of technology.. I'd like to see you talk to other disciplines, someone we may not meet in the hight tech scene.

    You do a great job of getting smart people talking about cool things. Can't wait to see your TED interviews.

  2. They could not have chosen a better person to be there and we're all lucky that you got one of those precious press badges. Congrats Rob, you rock!

  3. Thrilled for you. Your coverage of Le Web was how I participated. Shocked in a way that you're being asked to refrain from the standard way to capture..but kinda digging the challenge too. What's possible as far as pre TED interviews of folks? (thinking out of box). What's possible for showing ahead of time coverage so that viewers have a preview of who's gonna be up? Also, every time I watch a TED talk I wonder how to get student audience (middle school/highschool) more involved…I taught 6th grade for 7 years). Could your coverage bridge that gap? Thinking out loud. Grateful for you. Truly an honor.

  4. Bring your iPhone and Nexus One or Droid and use those to tweet (Mophie and an spare battery are recommended, too). A laptop or even netbook is not recommended. You will be walking from the main venue to the nearby hotels for the lunch sessions and the parties during the evening. :D

    Interview – please do interview Sir Ken Robinson – on his take on technology and education. The Digg guys should be there, too. If you can interview the Senior Fellows and the TED 2010 Fellows, then that'd be great.

    Have fun! Drink lots of liquid and wear comfortable walking shoes. :D

  5. Haven't heard before that Anderson asked the Leweb audience to close their laptops, but i agree with him. In every tech conference i've participate recently, at least 50% of the audience were not paying attention to the speaker at all. It's disrespectful and a waste of their time.

  6. Enjoy it Robert. Take it all in as a participant, rather than as a reporter. Then, as you process what you have heard over the days and weeks that follow, share it with us.

  7. You're asking the wrong question–in fact don't ask a question. I sense fear Robert and excitement at the same time. You got to realize you have been invited because you are Robert Scoble period. You have proven yourself to the world and now Ted's Chris Anderson wants you there because there is something in it for him–most likely you are the one to reach the audience he wants to reach. Relax and go in their like an informed Pro like you are and give off that vibe of curiosity–looking for the pattern–that you do so well. That is all.

  8. You are right, it's a huge responsibility and a gift. I'm sure you will bring back a lot of inspiration that you'll share with everyone. I have a list of people I would love to hear talk with you. These are not just people I would want to talk with, but people that I think would be very interesting when “scobleized”.

    Dan Barber of bluehillfarm.com
    Stewart Brand
    Nicholas Christakis
    Sheryl Crow
    Philip K. Howard
    Daniel Kahneman
    Benoit Mandelbrot (I have talked with him, he's fascinating)
    Jane McGonigal – games are the future
    Christopher “moot” Poole
    John Underkoffler
    Stephen Wolfram

    Thanks for asking and I look forward to seeing what you discover.

  9. Congratulations. Getting into the conference itself is a big thing.

    I think that in addition to the presenters, a lot of attendees themselves are significant achievers. I would like to watch interviews of people who don’t get in front of the camera too often.

  10. Delighted you're coming Rob. You're an insightful voice, and bring much more than a typical tech reporter – as this post proves. I'm confident you'll find some great spaces from which to blog, tweet and absorb. As well as the back of theater there are 8 simulcast areas. Sorry about the obsession with avoiding distraction for other attendees – but it really works. I'll be so interested to hear your reaction to the event. We're beyond excited.

  11. Robert, you're surely deserving of this. You're the right man for the job. Enjoy your time there, absorb the experience and then do what you always do…give us an authentic reaction and interview the people who moved you. Good luck.

  12. Funny you posted this today as I just posted about TED Talks this morning, in particular about Philippe Starck's TED presentation (http://sassholes.blogspot.com/2010/02/starck-tr…). It would be interesting if you could capture the various speakers' reactions to other speakers. Who moved Bill Gates? Which speaker made Sarah Silverman laugh, etc. In any event, absorb and share! (and Enjoy)

  13. Attending TED in person will be a great experience I am sure! Looking forward to reading your updates.

  14. Awesome opportunity – one I'm working towards. Follow your nose, Robert. Grab the person who lights a fire in you, who makes you hungry to know more, who blows your mind and makes you see the world differently. The more they are outside of your area of expertise, the better. Here are some of the people that I'd love to interview:
    Sam Harris
    Cheryl Crow
    Cheryl Hayashi
    Michael Sandel
    David Kahneman
    Mike Feinberg & Dave Levin
    Nicholas Christakis
    David Byrne
    Ken Robinson
    Take it all in. It's an opportunity of a lifetime…Congratulations

  15. Robert- Definitely try to get a video chat in with Moot. I would really like to hear what he has to say as a fellow young techie.

    And I would really like to see what the “average” attendee has to say… as in the people that were not invited and are not sitting in the “good” seats.

  16. Thanks for asking for our feedback Robert. I spent some time on the TED Web site, reading the short speaker bios. Everything, of course, is brilliant… but I would LOVE to hear from the following people, if you could.

    James Cameron
    Nicholas Christakis
    George Church
    Chip Conley
    Ze Frank
    Sam Harris
    Jane McGonigal
    Ken Robinson (one of my favorite TED speakers)
    David Rockwell
    Sara Silverman
    John Underkoffler

  17. I can't imagine how awesome it is to get a press pass to TED. I was just talking about the conference today with my friend Carl (who despises the pomp and cultism), as you can imagine we disagreed on this issue ;).

    Without having press live blogging the event, it is truly closed to us in real time. That sort of control makes me a little nervous. It feels like something Apple would do with brand, software or design control. I rebel against hard restrictions levied on me by others.

    If I were you I might have said, thanks but no thanks.

    You are my eyes and ears to hundreds of startups/founders/tech companies/conferences. Why can't we share this experience with you?

    I guess I can understand the split attention, when I called you a few weeks back I could tell you were juggling several things at once. I'm still flying into SFO from Hawaii 3 days early from my honeymoon and really want to talk about Victus Media and the IMM (June12-14 window).

    By the way, need an extra pair of hands to hold a BIG ZOOM lens outside of the auditorium?

  18. Don't kid yourself, it's the same tech-as-god transhumanist evolutionary biology spew that that crowd has been pushing since the hippie era. Egos on display, spewing out their lofty futuristic visions of how they think the world should be, arrogant enough to think that they can somehow change the world. The high price tag is just a Scientology-like way to keep out the riff-raff, elitist Atlantic Monthly reading East and West Coast pretentious neo-collective hive-mind's unite. Thankfully none of such will play in Peoria.

    They don't want any real press, they want cult members who are “responsible” and “inspired”, both directly translated into worshipers.

  19. PS – Michael Shermer as good (and odd) token, always gotta have one I guess. Would almost suffer the spew, to see Shermer. Silverman? Oh man, that's going to trainwreck already.

  20. Great post. I especially found it interesting. For this matter, once I discussed with one of my friends, not only about the content you talked about, but also to how to improve and develop, but no results. So I am deeply moved by what you said today.

  21. If you are really serious about making an effort to change the world, please caption your videos so that everyone can follow them. It's very easy to do this and will extend your video to a wider audience. YouTube allows one to translate the subtitles to different languages. BUT you need to create the subtitle file!

  22. Great post. I especially found it interesting. For this matter, once I discussed with one of my friends, not only about the content you talked about, but also to how to improve and develop, but no results. So I am deeply moved by what you said today.

  23. If you are really serious about making an effort to change the world, please caption your videos so that everyone can follow them. It's very easy to do this and will extend your video to a wider audience. YouTube allows one to translate the subtitles to different languages. BUT you need to create the subtitle file!