In a live poll published by CNBC.com yesterday, readers were asked whether the tightening of technology product cycles is rendering the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas passé. After some 1,471 votes were cast, some 62% of respondents voted yes.
When my colleague David Strom pointed it out to us here at ReadWriteWeb, I made one of my artificially erudite remarks: I wonder how many RWW readers, I said, would consider CNBC passé?
This led to an interesting discussion, which has evolved into the inspiration for asking you the question in a way that might make you think about it first. I’ll go ahead and ask it first, then if you care, I’ll share some personal thoughts.
Two of the larger factors that inspired me to seek the profession I’m in now are, curiously and perhaps ironically, television and conferences. I grew up admiring – and trying to emulate – a man named David Brinkley, who during the 1960s read the news during the dinner hour for NBC, at a time when TV news was electronic news. My interest in computer technology derived partly because I wanted to make my own games, but also from my sincere belief that interactive journalism would supplant broadcast journalism. For that reason, I became attracted to, and a frequent attendee of, computer and electronics conferences, CES among them. (Though my wife used to be my editor, I met her in person at COMDEX.)
There is a plausible argument that, at a time when most viewers have already heard about each story, a broadcast news program has become somewhat antiquated. And there is an equally plausible argument that an annual electronics conference at any one city, at a time when most retailers and suppliers and manufacturers do business with one another electronically on a daily basis, has become quaint, old-fashioned, and maybe even a waste of money.
But I’m not certain the Internet has actually replaced either one as a venue. There is no “Huntley-Brinkley Report” for the Web, no single authority for reliable news. And while that does not bother everyone, it bothers me because it means most folks’ view of the world is hodgepodge, aggregated, assembled from multiple accounts, with varying levels of accuracy and dependability. When I read “Michael Jackson is Dead,” I did not believe it; and when I read “Jon Bon Jovi is Dead,” I questioned myself as to why I should not believe it.
And there is no CES for the Web, although I know the CEA has tried. The Web cannot replicate the directness, the urgency, and yes, the excitement of bringing every major player together into the same square mile.
So I’m curious to learn your thoughts, and here is where I’ll point out the handy little comments section at the end: If history truly is outmoding all sense of authority, regality, pomposity, and prominence from these two once-dominant sources of information, then which one leaves our midst first?