CES isn't quite as glam this year. Instead of casinos, sunshine, and the strip in Vegas, I've got a messy kitchen table, two homeschooling kids, and a complete lack of face-to-face interaction.
But are virtual conferences really worth it?
My internal jury is still out. CES has done a pretty good job of putting in place the tools you need to 'man a stand' - we have a chatbot, direct messages, a list of all attendees, and the ability to set up meetings with anyone you choose. It feels easier to send the editor of Bloomberg News a non-threatening "meeting request" then it would be to doorstep them at a physical event. In fact, at a normal conference, you would never be privy to a list of all attendees' names and job descriptions. These facilities will remain up for 30 days, so you have a comfortable amount of time to follow up.
They've made it super easy to view talks that you missed, which is a great advantage when there are simultaneous tracks that interest you.
Billie Eilish and Dua Lipa even performed a concert virtually. That happened last night; it was at midnight our time, so I didn't sign in.
See? If we were in Vegas, we'd all be in the same time zone!
Like the comprehensive attendee list, replay and messaging facilities that stay up for days after the show, there will be some vestiges of Covid-era conferencing that will get consumed by all future events.
CES hasn't used a group Slack - perhaps the scale was simply too big - but I've seen it used successfully by other conferences this year.
In future, people are going to think twice about whether they actually need to get on an airplane. I'm doubtful that huge events will ever bounce back to 2019 levels. Last year, 180,000 people went to Vegas for the show. That's a LOT of C02 that hasn't been emitted to the atmosphere. For this, our planet thanks us.
We have to learn a thing or two from this pandemic, right? It takes an era of extreme discomfort to kickstart great advances in thinking.
Signing off now to head back to my ongoing P5 math lesson. At the kitchen table.