The relationship between people who are filled with anticipation and the event or thing they may be anticipating is an interesting one. It's clearly mutually reinforcing in that they feed off each other in an upwards spiral of energy and attention.
It is this dynamic that I find myself plunked thick in the middle of at TED 2006, the conference I am attending all this week. 1000 people have shelled out $4400 each in registration fees to be a part of one of the most eclectic conference communities I've run across in a long time, as well as hear from luminaries ranging from Al Gore to 11-year-old violinist Sirena Huang.
And in an experiment this year, TED let participants like myself propose and present 15-minute preconference sessions that made for a raucous morning of laughter and learning in what was billed as TED University. Before presenting three sessions on Asking Better Questions, I learned how to make roses out of paper napkins and how to use the newest Kodak EasyShare digital camera. Remember, I said this place is eclectic.
As a TED Virgin (yep, that's what they call us) finding yourself in the midst of long-time Tedsters who are almost giddy in reconnecting with each other and the TED experience is admittedly at first somewhat off-putting: Who are these people and why do they seem so excited? This initial disconnect was compounded by my encountering a series of poorly managed logistical snafus when I arrived on-site and checked in for the conference.
But the energy of the people and the sense that something big will happen here (not might happen, WILL happen) is so pervasive it seems to make everything else diminish into the background.
That's a good takeaway to have even before the actual conference begins: when people feel they are a part of something worthwhile, they are more willing to overlook minor annoyances that otherwise would become major points of contention.
More from Ted will follow each day this week.