CES: Loving the enemy

We've just returned to our hotel room after CES Unveiled, a sneak peek intended to highlight the best of show. Tthe urge to be downbeat is strong: there wasn't a lot of spectacular stuff on display. Hard times call for austerity, folks. These things are frivolous luxuries, right? Right. Highlights included a convertible tablet netbook from Asus, an ultra-realistic Guitar Hero game controller from Logitech, and a handset from Krone that converts English to sign language. Then there were many tables of nothing much memorable. Xeni and Joel took up the slack, recording footage for Boing Boing Video. In a brief face-to-face interview, Joel convinced Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro to anoint him the Official King of CES. Shapiro smiled and extended his hand like a sword, gently dubbing him on the shoulder. It seemed almost plaintive, but why shouldn't he play along? He was promoting the show, his life's work. When we filtered out of the hotel, long rows of taxis waited to take us back to our pad: a rare convenience during CES week. It'd be easy to write the same "recession-hit CES" story that you'll find elsewhere. It'd be easy to take gleeful pleasure in charting the show's decline. The fact that this would be so much fun, to writer and reader alike, is not a good thing. We shouldn't enjoy it when the things we love aren't popular. And what the consumer electronics industry sells isn't very popular right now. Gadget blogging's always been laden with snark; its the internet's motherlode of the stuff. It won't stop, either: it's our fluent language, a fair response to the subordination of innovation to business. But when tens of thousands of jobs will likely be lost in the coming months, what's the point in kicking the trade when it's down? It's time to have a little hope, and to find things to be positive about. A year ago, an expensive gizmo that does nothing more complicated than display a picture of someone's hands could easily have been mocked or ignored. This device, however, permits communication between a frustrated parent and a disabled child. It's the application of technology to solve a problem. Its value transcends its specifications. It works, it's wonderful, and it's yours, for $200. Just a luxury, right?

About Rob Beschizza

Rob Beschizza is the Managing Editor of Boing Boing. He's @beschizza on Twitter and can be found on Facebook too. Try your luck at besc...@gmail.com  
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9 Responses to CES: Loving the enemy

  1. joflow says:

    That ended up being surprisingly touching, Rob.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I agree with the above comment and I appreciate the positive note. Let’s face it, if somebody has the money to spend on what is, in the end, a non-essential gadget, how bad can life typically be for them? It’s easy and entertaining to be cynical of everything but I don’t think that we should forget that, normally, necessity is the mother of invention and that at one time whatever trivial function the gadget performs was most likely very important to somebody.

  3. zoydwheeler says:

    I’ll second that, nice to read anything that’s not *just* slagging CES.

  4. Robabob says:

    Anyone have any links so we can see the Krone sign language device?

  5. danilo says:

    It’s funny. I was trying to sort out the other day why I’ve found myself ignoring my other gadget feeds in preference for bbGadgets. Now I understand.

    Thanks for this, Rob. You penned the most important note about CES that will be written this year.


    The text/sign translator idea hit me with a shock. It’s so brilliant it seems obvious. One belongs in every ambulance, with ‘Do you have any drug allergies’ and other phrases pre-programmed in. Just when you think every useful invention’s been done…

  7. mattzog says:

    I guess it’s been said already, but good post. It seems that positivity is the appropriate sentiment for the time. Kudos on seeing to the heart of the matter.

  8. geekpdx says:

    Good on you Rob.

    Everyone can have a platform on the web, but few people get to say something where people will actually hear it. I love snark, but I heartily approve of the BBG team using it’s powers for good.

    If you guys could infect (angry Planet Terror zombie style, of course) the other big boys, engadget and gizmodo with a little of your disease, we’d be grateful.

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