Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 2:32 am.

CES: This is Bat Country

Fear and LoathingPerhaps the best thing to come out of CES this year is some of the writing.

I don’t mean the breathless descriptions of boring gadgets or the usual CES-still-matters-no-it-doesn’t debate. I’m talking about the articles where the act of attending CES itself — that crazy spectacle in Las Vegas — is the cause for introspection.

The first post to read is “Fever Dream of a Guilt-Ridden Gadget Reporter” by Gizmodo’s Mat Honan. This is what it’s like to swim in the brain of a tech blog writer during a chaotic trade show. And this, I’d imagine, is how Hunter S. Thompson might describe CES.

I trudge past several million dollars worth of 3DTVs, looking for a good place to take a shit. The toilets are all filthy. CES attendees are overwhelmingly men. Men are filthy, especially when they’ve been drinking too much coffee and eating Vegas buffets.

So I duck into the ladies’ room.

Then check out Brian Lam’s piece at the Wirecutter, “The Magical (And Sometimes Ridiculous) Gadgets of Tomorrow”. There is a useful list of the few gadgets at CES that are actually interesting, and another list of the ones you can safely ignore. And then there is a peek into the magical (and ridiculous) mind of Brian Lam.

The first thing I notice every year when I settle into a hotel at CES is that no matter how fancy the hotel, the tap water smells like eggs. They say the memory of smell is powerful although elusive and I use the memory of the smell of the tap water to wake me up when my eyes start glossing over at CES.


I’ve never attended CES. The first several years of my tech writing career, I was never offered the opportunity. Later, I made it a point of pride to stay away — I wanted to go to CES like I wanted a Zune.

But reading these pieces today, I’m actually sad I didn’t go this year. Now that I have a job where I really can take the time to look around, listen, smell, and think before I have to write stuff down, it seems like something I should experience.