Banished from Geek Mecca: Gizmodo's CES Prank

If you have never heard of them, is a site that reviews the latest and greatest gadgets, computers, electronics, and apparently anything else that may have a circuit board in it somewhere . Because of this unnatural affection, they've managed to become one of the bigger names in the (god I hate this word) blogosphere.

So it goes without saying that the boys from Gizmodo had to make the pilgrimage to geek mecca, the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas last week.

And this year, for the first time, rather than grouping a few select blogs in with the normal press, CES treated bloggers as first-class citizens, providing credentials, free passes to the show floor and a well-stocked lounge exclusively for the bloggers to post articles to their blogs.

However, forgoing any journalistic legitimacy that may have been bestowed upon them (Gizmodo got guest press credentials, not blogger creds), a few sophomoric synapses were still firing deep within the dark, dank recesses of the minds of the Gizmodo boys and they decided that a little harmless jackassery was in order for this billion dollar trade show of technical titillation.

The Gizmodo gang, lead by ringleader (I.E. Editor in Cheif) Brian Lam decided to take along a small device that anonymously turns off TVs, then walked around the trade show floor, shutting off monitors and pissing off the vendors. However, they didn't stop there. They took the prank a step further and shut down the monitors a speaker was using in the middle of a presentation for Motorola - something Lam now says he expressly forbade them from doing.

And then, in a move that can only be classified as truly amateur and really, really stupid, they bragged about their actions on their website:

"CES has no shortage of displays. And when MAKE offered us some TV-B-Gone clickers to bring to the show, we pretty much couldn't help ourselves. We shut off a TV. And then another. And then a wall of TVs. And we just couldn't stop. (And Panasonic, you're so lucky that 150-incher didn't have an active IR port.)"
OK, in the grand scheme of things, this is a fairly harmless prank. It was not destructive in the way that tagging a wall with a spray can is. It just meant that someone had to walk over and turn the TV back on manually. However in the eyes of the vendors that were affected by the stunt, it could be seen as an act of industrial terrorism.

Say for example you are a TV manufacturer and you're showing off your latest technological marvel, hoping to land that big million-dollar contract with an airport or something. Needless to say if your TVs keep shutting off, it probably won't help your sales efforts.

In response to the action, Event organizer the Consumer Electronics Association has posted their official response to the incident on Cnet's news blog:

"We have been informed of inappropriate behavior on the show floor by a credentialed media attendee from the Web site Gizmodo, owned by Gawker Media. Specifically, the Gizmodo staffer interfered with the exhibitor booth operations of numerous companies, including disrupting at least one press event. The Gizmodo staffer violated the terms of CES media credentials and caused harm to CES exhibitors. This Gizmodo staffer has been identified and will be barred from attending any future CES events. Additional sanctions against Gizmodo and Gawker Media are under discussion."
Prior to the CEA releasing its statement Lam posted an apology: "It was too much fun, but watching this video, we realize it probably made some people's jobs harder, and I don't agree with that (Especially Motorola). We're sorry."

So Lam got banned from attending CES again (at least as a member of the press). But now the blogosphere (there's that word again) is wondering what the ramifications of this stunt means for other bloggers that have struggled to be treated as legitimate members of the working press.

In a comment posted to CNet, one blogger voiced his opinion:

"I'm coming at this from the perspective of a videogame journalist/enthusiast who has worked at trying to garner respectability for the online blogging/website community for almost seven years. This is truly disgraceful, and as I say in my blog, this sets us back and is going to make it even more difficult to become credible."

More on this will undoubtedly be discussed in the weeks to come.

Here's the video:


Leon said...

This was really immature of Gizmodo. They deserve whatever sanctions they get. How dare they interfere with people's business like that?

The Judge said...

Yeah, but they don't care. They now claim it was all done as a statement showing how they cant be bought - that they will remain irreverent no matter who is paying their bills.

Its a silly prank, but its also a pretty genius publicity stunt. Their names have been all over the news lately. I bet their page views are through the roof.

Lefty said...

I've been looking a Gizmodo since this "story" came out, and I've been struck by the fact that every single advertisement on there for the past week (other than the random AdWords placements) has been for other Gawker properties.

I don't think page views matter so much if no one is interested in buying advertising on your site...

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