CES – it’s all a heap of crap

Opinion The foremost shock ‘n’ awe tech show in the world is a complete and utter waste of time.


For months, tech bloggers – they’re like journalists but unable to spell or step back and see the bigger picture – have been creaming their jeans over who might do what to whom at CES in Vegas.

How exciting can it be?

Well, not very. In fact, not at all.

Let’s start with Vegas.

Atlantic City at least has the attraction of being by the sea and a thousand miles or so nearer to civilization, or Europe as we like to call it.

Other than that, the USA’s top “leisure resorts” are soul-destroying temples to Mammon that anyone with two brain cells to rub together would run a mile to avoid.

I’d run two miles and I’m a fat old bastard looking forward to his pension, had I had the foresight to pay into a pension plan 40 years ago.

As it is, my retirement plan is to keep working until I drop dead and leave an unattractive corpse and a shedload of debt to banks, credit card companies and bartenders.

But I digress. [No change there, Ed]

In the old days, computer shows – as they were then known – had the decency to take place in some centrally-located conference center, handy for hotels and the airport. Vegas is about as suited to holding a major show as I am to run a four minute mile.

The whole thing is spread over hundreds of square miles of ghastly, identical hotels with absolutely no hope of getting from one press conference to another in under an hour. This means hacks – and we have three there – can cover maybe three events each per day.

And even when we find a decent story amidst the morass of storage solutions and world-class UPS paradigms, the chances of being able to find a working wifi or 3G connection to file that story are roughly zero.

So here’s problem one. The great and the good of the tech world are gathered together to demonstrate how we can all be freed from the slavery of being tied to a desk by fantastic, liberating new technology. Unfortunately, it clearly doesn’t bloody work, because we can’t tell anyone about it.

Problem two is more fundamental. All this liberating technology means we’re free to work anywhere we want, right? So why do thousands of people all fly to one town from all over the world to discover new technology that, err, means we don’t have to fly anywhere anymore? Has no one thought of saving the baby polar bears?

The whole nonsense of CES is a throwback to the 1980s. It has no place in the modern world. All the “news” revealed in Vegas is revealed in the thousands of press releases emailed before any actual announcement is made. In short, anyone with a web connection can do a better, cheaper, more timely job of covering anything from CES than can the hacks on the ground.

Sure, they can find the odd bit of gossip, but nothing we couldn’t make up.

What it comes down to is that companies like to take a few days off with their corporate credit cards, meet a few tame hacks, get pissed and maybe get laid. That’s what CES is about, not flat screen iSlates and USB 3.0 storage solutions.

Those of us who’ve been around the block more than once know that it’s as easy to get pissed and laid at home as in Vegas, considerably cheaper and with the added advantage that we’re less likely to pick up a dose of clap.

But the real clincher is that we don’t need to go through the hell that is US Immigration.