I'm sure you've already read about Gizmodo's CES crew, who channeled the ghost of Allen Funt, armed themselves with universal IR remote controls, and then worked themselves into a giggle-fest by covertly shutting down some devices on the show floor, thereby sabotaging some demos and displays. I certainly don't want to reward bad behavior by linking to them and giving them more pageviews, so I recommend you read these reactions from George Ou or Rafe Needleman or PC World's Tom Spring instead.
It's easy to mock the over-the-top-ness of CES or the stuffed shirts that define some companies. But apparently it's equally easy to forget that real people with real jobs lose sleep for months to get ready for this show. Being able to demo their products and technology directly to people who can put it in the retail channel is why they spend small fortunes coming to Las Vegas and put up with the misery of smoke-filled casinos and endless cab lines and ripoff prices. Screwing up a high-profile CES assignment can derail a career.
My ZDNet colleague Larry Dignan says he "honestly doesn't know" if he would have done the same thing in the same situation. I hope that professionalism would have prevailed. About the last thing I need is someone refusing to return my calls or respond to interview requests because I work for the same outfit as someone who pulled a cheap stunt like this and still has his job.
So the stunt wasn’t clever or funny; it was obnoxious and mean, and I’m embarrassed for the Gizmodo folks.
Hey, next year, maybe they can run around pouring Coke into the vents of the computers! Maybe they can scribble Magic Marker on the cellphones! Maybe they can throw ketchup on the presenters’ shirts! Ha-ha!
I have no doubt that some low-rent Gizmodo clone will try to imitate this stunt next year. But I'm hoping instead for a little creative payback. The folks at Gizmodo have painted a gigantic target on their backs with this stunt. The possibilities are endless:
- Maybe someone who knows some of the Gizmodo editors involved could try giving them exclusive photos of some irresistible object on a USB flash drive with a copy of Switchblade installed. Oh, the hilarity that could ensue from such a prank! If you could get your hands on the posting passwords for even a few minutes, you could disemvowel every Gizmodo post from CES. That would be funny, right?
- Maybe the next time the Gizmodo Gang is covering a big event someone could follow them around with a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth jammer like the one they chortled over back on July 28, 2005 (again, no link because I don't reward bad behavior), so that their uploads always mysteriously fail. My sides split just thinking of it!
- Maybe CES management will give the Gizmodo crew their press passes next year and then hire some Jack Bauer clones to swoop down on opening day and confiscate their gadgetry, giving it back only after a couple hours of interrogation in the back room. All taped, of course, with highlights on YouTube within hours. It could be better than Borat!
Karma's a cruel mistress, boys. You might want to sleep with your notebooks and cell phones under your pillows for a while.