Friday, September 29, 2006

Engadget Meetup: Boston -- Get Your Geek On...

Out with CHEN PR VP, Kevin Kosh and Principal, Chris Carleton

Hello, my name is Kevin and I'’m a gadget addict. And a lot of people with a similar makeup were out in force last night as guests at an event hosted by Engadget -- a self-described "“web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics."

As with many events filled with self-effacing technophiles, there were plenty of jokes about the crowd looking like they came from Star Trek and Star Wars conventions, prompting one person to say, "“but it'’s not as bad, because they have costumes."” Although one could argue that from Firefox T-shirts, to tablet PCs and every manner of digital photography device, the gadget addicts were suited up for battle...


Also indicative of the humor, in a contest segment that included some incredibly creative and well produced Engadget ads by loyal users, one ad called Engadget "porn for geeks,"” to which one of the Engadget founders quipped, "“I actually thought porn was porn for geeks?"


All joking aside, there was a palpable excitement and a childhood wonder in the air (regardless of age -- and the ages ranged from what looked like 17 to well into the 50s) that you were getting an exclusive backstage pass to see what'’s next. Like a golden ticket into Willy Wonka's Chocolate factory (Gene Wilder's, not Johnny Depp'’s). It wasn’'t about celebrity, big money, or even necessarily the bleeding edge technical elite, it was about a shared experience accessible to all. And to be honest, the energy in this small room surpassed some of the largest tradeshows I'’ve attended. They covered topics from Microsoft's Zune media player, to Vista, to other trends in personal entertainment. They even touched upon the massive recalls prompted by exploding batteries in many of the devices covered by Engadget.


In fact, the Engadget event was only partially about cool technology. Arguably, it was more about the "“social"” in social networking. Sponsoring vendors including Sonos, Sling Media, and Slim Devices, displayed -- and even raffled off -- some really cool products, but in an informal setting over a beer and munchies, and without a hard sell. Apart from that and a brief Q&A session with Editor-in-Chief Peter Rojas the event was unremarkable in terms of structure. Actually, the Q&A suffered from AV issues and only one microphone with questions yelled out over the crowd. While the skeptical among us might suggest that was intentional to preserve an underground/ad hoc feeling of the event, the net of Engadget's meetup was a resounding success and a lot of fun.

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