CES and the Kindness of Strangers

January 14, 2012

There’s lots of blog and Twitter commentary about how awful CES is: the crowds, the spread-out venues, the bland press lunches and the disgusting bathrooms. Not that I enjoy any of the aforementioned, but I think there’s always annoying things like that you can dwell on in life. This was my first CES and it I thought it was great. It was great because of the people I met.

To give you a little background, I’m relatively new to the consumer electronics industry. I don’t have lots of contacts and relationships in the industry that span years and years. The one thing that struck me about the show was how friendly and open both the attendees and citizens of Las Vegas were.

One night, I started talking with a print reporter and also met a couple of game developers at an after show event. Next thing I know we all decided to go to In-And-Out Burger (Thanks to @VortexGamesInc for driving!). We had a great time talking tech and covering many other topics. I learned a bunch of new things including lots about mobile gaming. What could be better?

Along the same lines, I met a veteran reporter who gave me lots of tips about where to go and who to see. It’s not the type of stuff you would ever find Googling.

As Google continuously refines their search results and now includes results from Google+, there’s less and less of an opportunity for serendipity. I can’t even begin to count the number serendipitous meetings I had at the show. I met folks from the companies I write about that I would never otherwise have had the occasion to meet. I learned the answers to technical questions that only live in the domain of tribal knowledge (I finally know why 3D material has that cookie-cutter look). I also was exposed to areas I normally don’t write about.

To finish up, here’s a tale that best exemplifies the folks in Las Vegas. On my last day of CES, my last meeting ran over and I was running late to the airport. I thought I could take a short cut through the Encore to get back to the convention center but quickly realized that I had hit a time-consuming dead end. Out of nowhere, a white SUV pulls up and asks me what’s wrong. Next thing I know, these nice folks who work at the Encore are high-tailing me over to the convention center so I can get my luggage. Yes, I know my mother told me not to talk to, or even worse, take rides from strangers, but sometimes you just know it’s ok.

So, stop complaining about how tired you are and that there are too many people at CES. You should be tired, you should be full to overflowing: that’s what happens when you drink from the fire hose. If there weren’t a lot of people, what would be the point? It’s the mass concentration of people that creates the magic. CES isn’t about the facilities, it’s about the relationships. That’s why this won’t be my last CES.

International CES 2012

Tags: CES

2 Responses to CES and the Kindness of Strangers

  1. Dave Zatz on January 14, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Yep, as I wrote in 2007, “CES is not just about product announcements, it’s also about relationships” Sorry I bagged my trip this year and we didn’t get to meet up. Maybe I’ll hit The Cable Show this spring in Boston and we can remedy that. (But even if I don’t, you should!)

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