Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

CES, or the Consumer Electronics Show, is a trade show held in Las Vegas where new products are announced and demonstrated to the press. This year’s CES just ended January 10th, and it looks like there was a small scandal that occurred. Gizmodo, a popular tech/gadget blog owned by Gawker media, pulled a prank which has resulted in the prankster being banned from attending CES in the future. In a nutshell, they brought some devices called TV Be Gone to the shows and proceeded to randomly shut down screens during presentations and press demonstrations. This resulted in a lot of embarrassed presenters and confused audience-members. There’s a video of the pranks here, at Gizmodo’s site (where they also apologize.)

Sure, its funny. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to giggling at the “huh?!” faces on all the people in the wake of the TV Be Gone’s warpath. However, interfering with people’s jobs, like disrupting press demonstrations, seemed to be taking it much too far. The fun, and the point, could still remain intact if just the random screens hanging on walls, etc, were zapped. But, now that someone from Gizmodo is banned from future CES shows, there very well may be a bleed-over effect into other blogs. Legitimate press representatives from other tech blogs (and non-tech blogs) might be facing increased suspicion after this incident, not that any more was needed. Blogs already have something to prove to “real media,” that they are equally as potent, as respectful, as honest, as mature, as widely read, and as worthy of trust and respect as mainstream sources. Gizmodo just confirmed that blogs still have a way to go to gain that trust, and to use it wisely in situations where people are relying on the press to *report* rather than *sabotage.* I like Gizmodo, but their bad behavior casts a shadow on the integrity of all blogs who aspire to be more than online diaries. And that is most definitely not appreciated.


  1. #1 Dan
    January 12, 2008

    I’m glad Gizmodo is banned. If I’d had my presentation disrupted by some brainless little twit, I’d hunt the bastard down and make him give that presentation for me so everyone can have a nice laugh at the brainless moron.

    Still, it’s nice to see Gizmodo essentially committing suicide as a result of this. They clearly do not deserve to be in a professional environment. Now the grown ups can actually do their jobs without having to deal with Gizmodo’s day-care class of bloggers.

  2. #2 Bob
    January 12, 2008

    “now that Gizmodo is banned from future CES shows”

    Incorrect. Only the Gizmodo staffer responsible for the prank has been banned from future CES shows. CES is weighing potential additional sanctions against Gizmodo and Gawker Media.

  3. #3 Nick
    January 12, 2008

    Banning the individual is about right. I’ve worked in publicity, and a writer for one of our local alt papers was guilty of extreme misbehavior on a Hollywood junket at studio expense a few years back. He lost his job (as film editor), but the paper itself wasn’t held responsible by the studio. Part of the reason for that is that it has a strong presence locally and even has a national reputation. Furthermore, the studio’s publicity people knew that the paper is better than the nitwit they hired. The paper did what was necessary, and all was well again.

    Gizmodo is a major blog for the gadget set, and is read by a major portion of the target demo that CES wishes to reach. They’ll be satisfied with the head of that joker and an apology. Otherwise, they’ll pull the trigger on the site. Unless they were already on probation for something else, that is. But readership usually trumps politics and even egos.

  4. #4 Why hello there
    January 12, 2008

    Agreed, the lack of judgment here was astounding, but then again, this is the same website run by a man who posted the infamous ‘tubgirl’ photo on a videogame blog read by children.

    On a completely separate note, someone really needs to nominate you for one of those ‘sexiest geeks’ polls 🙂

  5. #5 Shelley Batts
    January 12, 2008

    Bob, thanks for the correction.

    Nick, I completely agree that the individual is mostly to blame in this case, but Gizmodo posted the video and thanked the prankster for their contribution. Doesn’t look like anyone is losing their job for this, in fact, for all I know Gizmodo planned it or is at least fine with it. They aren’t acting otherwise on their blog, at least. The apology was proffered, but as for the head, looks like CES will have to do without it. And perhaps put up with egg on their face for awhile too.

  6. #6 Matt J
    January 13, 2008

    I stopped reading Gizmodo after they posted a link to some asinine site featuring girls wearing bikinis and stormtrooper helmets. This was the straw that broke the camels back, the degree of sexism and immatureness on a blog which claims to practice serious journalism is astonishing.

  7. #7 Johan
    January 13, 2008

    Always funny when unexpected cross-pollinations occur within my RSS reader. I had not expected to read about Gizmodo over here.

    As I understand it, they played around with a remote and switched a few screens off here and there. No permanent damage done. The interrupted Motorola presentation made me wince, but really… Tempest in a teacup, surely?

    Personally, I like Gizmodo’s irreverent style, even though their humour doesn’t always do it for me. Gadget news are ultimately boring if taken entirely at face value, as some of the “serious journalists” in the printed medias do. I enjoy their attempts to mix things up a bit, even if it doesn’t always work out.

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    January 13, 2008

    Shelley: I don’t think we need to worry too much until they come up with a “Blog be gone” device. Then we are screwed.

  9. #9 Bryce M.
    January 13, 2008

    They still let Geraldo on the air occasionally, so I think you can pretty much do anything as a journalist and be okay.

  10. #10 Brian X
    January 14, 2008

    Looks like something to blog about…

    I’ve always been a little ambivalent about this little gadget. On the one hand, I can appreciate the value of it — there are plenty of places I just don’t want to see the television (especially when the default station is Faux News). But on the other hand, it’s one of those things that’s a little like flashing people or burning a flag that you didn’t buy yourself — it’s a public space, not owned by someone else, and therefore you’re engaged in an activity that it’s not your business to be engaged in.

    Besides, hackwise, the TV-Be-Gone isn’t even all that elegant — all it’s doing is automating something that could trivially be done with a pair of off-the-shelf universal learning remotes for $30 and about an hour of programming time.

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