Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Last Word on Gizmodo v. CES

Acres of big shiny glass—in the form of large-scale high-definition video displays—are the visual signature of CES.

If you were an anti-consumerist or environmentalist group looking to lodge a protest, make a statement and gain attention, contriving to turn that glittering glass black might get your cause some attention. Of course, you'd be ready to take the heat and proud to stand in the long tradition of civil disobedience running past Martin Luther King, Jr. through Gandhi, to Henry David Thoreau.

Oh wait... they opposed government actions. Never mind. Okay then, the short tradition of Robert Scoble scraping Facebook for email addresses of his friends. ("Mr. Zuckerberg, tear down this wall.")

But if you're a reporter for Gizmodo, you do it for the comedy and the bragging rights. If you're the editor of Gizmodo post video to the Web and wait for the laughs and applause. Some laugh. But the grownups are appalled. If you're the publisher of Gizmodo, you tut-tut the whole thing.

The Gizmodians pulled a dumb, hurtful prank that embarrased presenters, devalued the investment companies made in CES, and, naturally, sparked a Techmeme-storm that's now subsiding.

Shout out to Rafe Needleman and Shel Israel for getting the public shaming going... to CEA for responding well--reported by Rafe: No collective punishment for bloggerville. They guy who did it is banned... to Dave Winer for reminding us that the bozo pranker isn't a blogger but a reporter working for a publication. (He was right. Turns out Gizmodo actually had business-class press credentials, not the coach credentials afforded to bloggers.) For those who were alarmed that the stunt tarnished bloggers everywhere, I say, "Huh?" Might as well say it tarnished twenty-somethings everywhere.

Mickeleh's Take: For those who say, lighten up and get a sense of humor about a dumb prank, I say this: I'll tell you what it was. It was heckling, that's what. Two Gizmodians walk into a club—comped no less—and try to impress their dates by talking back to the comics. As Lily von Schtupp said in the old west, "Are you in show business? Then why don't you get your fwiggin' feet off o' the stage." (Madeleine Kahn, I miss you. Mel Brooks, please stick around.)

Personally, I took this up a notch from where CEA had it. I've unsubscribed to Gizmodo in my reader. Brian Lam, I'll miss you. Not as much as I miss Madeleine Kahn, but I'll miss you.

Related: an acoustic version of this prank.

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Just at Random... Whaaaaa.

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