This isn't news to anyone who isn't a geek. I'm a geek, though, so it's news here at the ThreeSeven.
At last week's CES, the gadget blog Gizmodo pulled a little prank. Gizmodo is one of the blogs in the Gawker chain, the same folk who bring you entertaining and obnoxious blogs Lifehacker, Jezebel and the rest. Before the trade show, Gizmodo gang got themselves a hold of a nifty little gadget. The gadget is a universal remote that can turn off any TV. So these Gizmodo guys thought it would be funny to wander around the show where plenty of flat panel TVs themselves were on display, and almost every booth was using a flat panel TV to deliver presentations to the press and attendees, and video themselves surreptitiously turning the TVs off.
It was one thing when they turned off TVs just displaying stuff.
It was yet another entirely when they turned off flat panels being actively used, in the middle of various demos and press conferences.
Clicky and take a look for yourself.
The fallout has been mixed. Some found it funny. Some found it deathly offensive. Webware, I think, got it right. The video is funny. The consequences will not be. The blogger in question has been banned for life from CES - and not being allowed in to the biggest gadget show on the planet is not inconsequential punishment if you work for "a blog with the sole purpose of writing about tech and gadgets as fast as possible." Gizmodo and perhaps even Gawker Media as a whole are even rumoured to possibly face bannination from CES, and if that happens good luck getting in to any other tradeshow under the Gawker name.
My take? Stuff like this is funny.. and super jerky. While I'm the first to say that marketing types take themselves way too seriously and it's entertaining to have a little fun with them, this went beyond "a little fun" when the poor bastard at Motorola had his presentation disrupted repeatedly in front of what could easily have been a couple hundred people. Companies make huge announcements at the CES show, announcements that are planned for months, where lots of money is spent and lots of crucial people invited to hear the message. If one little thing goes wrong, people can lose their jobs - for real.
The prank in action went too far, especially at the Motorola booth. And yeah, I know plenty of you think that all of these marketing people are douchebags in the first place, but the point is, all of these people were just doing their jobs. Through no fault of their own, completely randomly, someone decided that their desire for amusement was more important than anyone else's job at the time and fucked with them, disrupting them hugely. In this case, the douchebag is the guy from Gizmodo.
The whole thing is reminiscent of college punks getting drunk and roaming around toilet papering trees or stealing hubcaps. It's funny and goofy in a pubescent sort of way while it's going on, but in the end it's really not all that amusing and it causes real life problems for others. It'll take that homeowner hours to clean up the tree; it costs the owner of the car real money to get hubcaps replaced. It's random asshattery solely for the entertainment of the perpetrator that someone else ends up having to pay for.
Gizmodo, I suspect, realizes they're in for it. Given that they've posted the evidence and admitted they intentionally disrupted people's presentations, and depending on what Motorola was trying to announce during that conference, Gizmodo is wide open for a lawsuit. But the reputation damage was worse. Gizmodo just reinforced every cliche of bloggers being nothing but punk clown frat boys who just pretend they belong at the big parties. And then people complain when bloggers aren't considered 'real' media. You can't have it both ways. So in the end, +1 for comedy, and minus several thousand for being asshats.