Some are suggesting: Why not just surf the show in your skivvies?
By ara c. Trembly
One of the things that makes technology so appealing to the masses is the idea that it promises to make life easier for us. Indeed, many of the inventions of the modern era–automatic washers, dryers, dishwashers–have taken some of the time and drudgery out of everyday tasks.
Science fiction has shown us glimpses of future ages in which even more impressive things could take place. The television series “Star Trek,” for example, features a unique device known as a “replicator,” which can, at the command of a human, instantly reproduce any meal or beverage requested, right down to the brand name. The stuffy Captain Jean-Luc Picard of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” routinely asks the replicator on board the Enterprise for “hot tea, Earl Grey.” According to englishteastore.com, Earl Grey is a blend of Indian and Ceylon teas that gets its unusual flavor from oil of bergamot, a small acidic orange that is a cross between the sweet or pear lemon and the Seville or sour orange. Even in the 24th century, producing the genuine item instantaneously from scratch would be quite a feat.
Yes, the idea that technology can replicate almost anything sounds really great, but is that what we really want? I began thinking about the notion some are advocating that industry trade shows, for example, could be done entirely over the Internet, saving us all lots of money on travel and lots of time out of the office. I started wondering what the “replicator” version of a trade show might look like in today’s technology environment.
How would we “virtually” duplicate an event like this year’s IASA annual education conference, for example? Well, we could probably set something up with a broadband connection and webcams to enable us to see and be seen by session presenters and others. Of course, enlarging one’s collection of trade show treasures such as calendars, calculators, flashlights, T-shirts, flashing buttons, squeeze toys, yo-yos, key chains, can openers and the like might be problematic. Sure, the vendors could just send those to you, but most of them probably give them out as a way of enticing you to talk with them about their products.
Maybe there could be a “virtual exhibit hall” that lets you interact with a vendor at each “booth” and then receive a giveaway later via snail mail. Now I know the thought of actually having to talk to someone at a trade show booth–rather than simply swooping by and grabbing whatever isn’t nailed down–may seem disturbing to some of you, but just remember that you can do your pilfering in your pajamas if you so choose (and if you’re OK with strangers checking you out in your nightclothes via webcam).