Nerd World: Not at CES, Not Feeling Bad About It

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I’m not like Matt. I don’t sit around watching movies and striking for causes I believe in. I work for a living. Or I do now that I’m back from leave.

One thing I don’t do anymore is go to a lot of tech trade shows. Used to. Used to be I’d haul-ass off to Las Vegas for a week of vaporware and mini-bar booze and bad air and jolie-laide booth babes at a moment’s notice. No longer. Hence my sitting out the Consumer Electronics Show this week.

It’s partly because I’m older and lazier and more complacent than the irritating Horatio Alger-type I once was. I’m not as thrilled as I once was about filling plastic tote bags with swag, and being the first to rewrite a press release about an incremental update to some prosumer camcorder. That’s what CNET’s for. God bless those brave lads.

Partly it’s because there just isn’t as much heat around consumer hardware launches as there once was. And partly they’re just so much damn work: it’s a good chance to get contact with executives, but you have to kiss a lot of frogs, and some even less appealing amphibians, before you come up with anything useful. There’s too much stuff being hyped, and you’re too close to it. When you’re on the ground at CES it’s like being caught on a Napoleonic battlefield: the fog of war is thick, everybody’s running around, there’s all this musket smoke, you can’t tell who’s winning. Plus my gout always flares up.

Plus nobody announces anything cool at CES anymore anyway. Apple hasn’t shown up for years, they just do MacWorld a week later. Watch Gates’s keynote: there are some good moments — what do you suppose Slash’s appearance fees are like these days? — but it’s hard to imagine a less surprising, visionary presentation. Mobile this, personalized that, hi-def the other thing. I’m not saying this stuff ain’t useful. It just doesn’t soothe my tech jones. And Las Vegas is a long way to go to have my tech jones not soothed. I can do that right there in New York.