At Large: Comdex, as I see it

At Large: Comdex, as I see it

On a clear day, Matthew JC. Powell can see for miles and miles and miles and miles . . .

There's a very slight chance that you might read elsewhere in this issue about the Computer Dealers Exposition (Comdex, to its buddies) which is being held in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, while this very publication is being prepared. I'm not entirely sure, what with not being directly involved in the day-to-day editorial planning of the paper anymore, but my instincts would suggest it'll rate a mention in here somewhere.

Australian Reseller News has a long history of up-close coverage of the Expo, with our beloved patriarch, Paul Zucker, having attended every show since Babbage launched the Inference Engine with champagne, hors d'oeuvres, and five free pulls on a slot machine. "Groundbreaking," the company called it. "The start of the revolution," said the press release. Most observers at the time couldn't see its potential, but Paul wrote that it would change the way we thought about punch cards. See who's laughing now!

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, Comdex. ARN has two observers "on the ground" at this year's show. Phil and Tom are there to report on what the exhibitors, vendors and show attendees are putting on the ground, and how it will impact your businesses. Mostly, they've reported on discarded press releases, some bubble gum and a couple of lost children. But since it's the US, we expect to hear about chewing tobacco before too long.

The long and the short of what I'm getting at here is that you're about to be flooded with news reports written by people at Comdex about what's going on at Comdex. You'll be bombarded with so much information about the thing that you might as well be there amongst the quarter million or so attendees, struggling vainly to get near enough to a booth to find out what's going on.

Digestible lumps

At least half of the people who attend a show as brobdignagian as Comdex are journalists, trying to distil the key facts into digestible lumps that won't confuse their readers. The problem is that there are so many journalists there they mostly confuse each other.

My own perspective on it, therefore, is unique amongst correspondents you will read on the subject: I have never been to a Comdex, and I'm not there now. Anything I say about the show will be totally unclouded by facts, so that you will know it must be true.

The main thing to know about Comdex is that it is completely faked. That's right, it does not exist at all. It's part of a conspiracy to multiply the price of a room's accommodation anywhere in Nevada by a factor of three for a week.

How do I know this? First: it's in Las Vegas. Everything is faked in Las Vegas, from wedding chapels to the cellulite-free legs of the showgirls. When genuine things show up in Las Vegas they are immediately copied in cheap plastic so as not to confuse tourists.

Second: have you noticed how they keep calling it the "Fall" Comdex? Well I don't know about you, but from where I'm sitting it's Spring. I mean, Christmas is just around the corner, and as everybody knows, Christmas is a Summer event. Since Las Vegas is in the middle of the desert, the Comdex organisers believe nobody will be able to tell whether it's Spring or Autumn, so they can call the show whatever they want.

Third: Bill Gates is reported to have given a keynote address to open the Expo. The actor known as Bill Gates is currently on trial for his life against charges of anti-competitive browsing or something, and his evidence has been provided entirely by videotape. Microsoft has been unable to produce a real Bill Gates to defend himself, even when it may mean electrocution by firing squad. Are we meant to believe he'd show up in person to open up a computer show?

So the picture is clear: a group of Las Vegas promoters has conspired to create a sham show in the middle of the desert at the wrong time of year.

Approximately 100,000 computer journalists from all over the world are flown in, and their numbers are supplemented by unemployed actors and former professional boxers.

Any real people who happen to show up looking for a computer show are prevented from getting through the crowd to see that the booths are, in fact, either empty or showing videotapes of old Hercules movies starring Steve Reeves.

Of course, a few press releases have to come out, and some pretty photos. The journos are plied with food, drink and free gambling chips in exchange for their compliance. But you and I know better. The truth is out there.

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