Magazine article Variety

Oh, the Humanity: Face to Face at CES

Magazine article Variety

Oh, the Humanity: Face to Face at CES

Article excerpt

This past week marked my eighth consecutive trip to Las Vegas for CES, or as the Consumer Electronics Assn. no longer wants the event called, "the Consumer Electronics Show."

The CEA's persnickety insistence on this nondescript acronym reminds me of the way a cable network once known as The Learning Channel was redubbed TLC. Becoming a handful of random letters maximizes a brand's flexibility - being known as TLC, for instance, frees up viewers to expect no "learning" from a show like "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo."

Maybe the arbitrariness of "CES" makes sense for a forum that hosts so many products (from plasma screens to autonomous vehicles to a washing machine that also folds laundry) that it's easy to lose sight of what one has to do with another. I think my colleague Janko Roettgers said it best when he tweeted out of Vegas last week: "CES really is three events in one. TV CES, car CES, and weird CES."

But I'm struck more every year about how the confab's raison d'être - a showcase for new devices - seems increasingly incidental to the CES experience. As I rubbed elbows with many at all levels of the entertainment industry this past week, I was reminded that the glue of CES isn't technology but the polar opposite: people. …

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