It's not often that I find myself disagreeing with my colleague Larry Dignan, but I have to admit that I was pretty surprised to read his take on the whole Gizmodo incident.
In case you've missed this nearly entirely inside-the-circuitboard story: Some bloggers over at Gizmodo got their hands on a bunch of clickers that enabled them to turn off any TV sets (at least those with active IR ports) they wanted on the show floor at the Consumer Electronics Show, and then posted a video of their "hijinks" on the site. (Larry has included a link to the video in his post, but given the amount of link-love Gizmodo has already gotten on this thing today, I don't see the need to give them yet another one here.)
[Full disclosure: I myself have pulled this exact same trick, but the only difference is I've pulled it on my wife, using SlingBox remotely to either turn off the cable box, or better yet, make her watch, say, The Golf Channel.]
I must admit that my initial reaction was that of amusement - but that lasted about 30 seconds, which was how long it took me to think about the number of hours (and the boatloads of money) that vendors put into their CES set-ups, not to mention how it must have felt to be a host on one of those stages while the TVs kept going out.
After all that time and money, I don't think it's unreasonable for folks to be irritated that a gaggle of Gizmodo bloggers messed them up - and arguably worse, made it look like the companies themselves weren't capable of pulling off a basic presentation.
As for the Gizmodo apology, it's hard to believe that they didn't realize they "made some people's jobs harder" until they posted the video, and I would like to think if they were truly sorry about it, they wouldn't have posted the video in the first place, but...
If I were the victim of one of their pranks, I certainly wouldn't rush to get Gizmodo my latest products (and of course, that both ZDNet, and our sister site, CNET, are competitors has *nothing* to do with that recommendation). That said, the victims are between a rock and a hard place -- they need the Gizmodos of the world to hype their products, and I would be shocked if they did anything to jeopardize that. Ditto for the Consumer Electronics Association (which puts on CES), but at the very least, they should provide black tape to every vendor next year so they can block their IR ports. Oh, and maybe subject Gizmodo staffers to a strip search before they can enter next year's show.
(By the way, now that I've finished this, I've just read Ed Bott's great post on this -- in fact, had I read it first, I would have just pointed to his blog and saved myself the time from writing this one.)
hat do you think? Have I lost my sense of humor, did Gizmodo go too far, or does nobody beyond the insular world of tech journalism actually care about this story? Tell me what you think in Talkback.