Rory Cellan-Jones

Talking tech with tech

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 5 Jan 08, 14:43 GMT

Why am I here? It is the kind of existential question you will find many a jet-lagged Las Vegas visitor asking at 5 a.m. but my inquiry relates to the Consumer Electronics show, rather than the blackjack table at my hotel’s casino. What can you show me?€ - is the even trickier question being asked by my editors back in London.

Worryingly, some seem to think they’ll be seeing the latest personal jet-pack or a robot-enabled home of the future. Instead, what we will find at CES is important, but incremental, changes to the way we live our digital lives. Thinner, smarter, better-looking televisions (oh, that we could say the same about your reporter). New ways of managing the flood of digital content now arriving in homes - from home servers to media extenders. New wireless technologies making it ever easier to take that content with you wherever you are – I’m filming some of that in a car in the next couple of hours.

This is my fifth visit to Las Vegas for a major trade show. I used to visit COMDEX but the IT show faded as the consumer electronics version flourished and it doesn’t get any easier to turn it into compelling pictures or audio. Seething masses of visitors climbing over packed stands look more like a bad day at the Oxford Street sales than a vision of the future.

But we have brought our own collection of gadgetry to help us tell the story. On my first trip to Comdex in 1999 I came with one producer who had just learnt to wield a handycam. We shot everything that moved, got back on a plane, and put a few pieces out in London later in the week - including one report on the huge threat Psion posed to Microsoft. Oh dear.

This time I’m accompanied by a very experienced producer and what we call a shoot-edit. As well as a camera, Steve Adrian has got laptop editing gear and the nous and nerve needed to edit and feed stories via an internet connection which may or may not be rock-steady.

I too have brought with me a somewhat random collection of gadgetry aimed at getting me on air and online. So I have just unpacked my laptop, two mobile phones - one to make calls, the other to do a little filming with its rather good video camera- a blackberry, a digital audio recorder, a digital picture frame, a second ultra mobile laptop and a device for measuring the energy output of electrical products. The last three items may sound like coals to Newcastle - exporting the latest gadgets to CES - but we are filming them over the weekend before the show opens.

So now all we have to prove is that we can use the gadgetry to make gadgets look and sound interesting on TV, radio and the web. Then we can get round to answering a few more existential questions.


  • 1.
  • At 04:10 AM on 06 Jan 2008,
  • John M wrote:

Rory C-J and the BBC's coverage of tech is just appalling. He behaves like some kind of bumbling dad out of his league. This is really letting everyone down.

This post is a great example of contentless blather about how 'complex' and 'funny' the world the tech is (to Rory C-J).

I imagine you will suppress this post - Rory C-J presumably being more vain than he likes to pretend - but the fact remains that BBC tech coverage is infantile. Look at the US coverage in the mainstream, CNet, NYT, All Things D, all the blogs, etc and you see what can be achieved.

Your argument will surely be - we have to be where the audience is - and this is sound but too abstract. The audience may be confused, but they are eager, and Rory C-J just makes the whole thing feel like a jolly jape that will sort of all make sense one day.

Get it sorted! Be serious about the tech, without making it too hard to grasp. Put Bill Thompson in charge. He's no great shakes, but he at least manages not to patronise the reader, while keeping it clear and compelling.

Definitely get rid of Pops Rory C-J. Technology is not some goofy thing for dads of yesteryear.

I disagree. It's not the BBCs job to be Slashdot - they're trying to communicate how important this stuff is to the mass of people who aren't quite interested or, even worse, are scared of it.

I was really pleased to see this blog emerge when I checked my feeds this year - the more the merrier!

And Rory, how are you finding your UMPC? I absolutely love mine (a Samsung) - it fits into my handbag, which has been a desire of mine for, ooh, ages, but then I'm a sucker for new gadgets :) Looking forward to seeing the next items to lust after...

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