Duly keynoted

SAN FRANCISCO–I set a personal record for keynote livetweeting with the 3.5-hour production that opened Google’s I/O developer conference here on Wednesday morning. That was by far the longest tech-event keynote I’ve sat through, but nowhere near the strangest.

I:O logo onstageFor that, I might have to give the nod to Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs’ freakshow of a CES keynote this year that somehow included Steve Ballmer, Bishop Tutu, Guillermo del Toro and Big Bird. But I could also point to last year’s I/O keynote, capped off by a livestreamed skydive onto the Moscone West roof. Or what about the epic networking meltdowns of one of 2010’s two I/O keynotes?

The Microsoft keynotes that opened CES through 2011 were their own breed of weird, thanks to their history of random celebrity-guest appearances and technical meltdowns.

The keynotes Steve Jobs led for Apple were models of restraint in comparison. (I can’t speak to the live experience of those since his death, as I haven’t been gotten given a press pass to any of them.) Jobs spoke at a measured pace, the slides mostly consisted of white text on black backgrounds, supporting speakers didn’t come onstage to their own at-bat music, and the guests who didn’t work at Apple were almost always confined to executives at other tech firms cooperating with Apple on various projects–not random boldface names.

But the Steve Jobs And Apple Show made its own mistakes. The extended dissertation at Macworld NY in 2001 over how Apple’s PowerPC processors weren’t really slower than Intel chips was both legendarily dull and distinctly dodgy, given that Apple was already working on its subsequent switch to Intel. (Trivia: I think was also the one and only time a review of mine got favorably cited in an Apple keynote, when Jobs gave a shout-out to my iDVD review.) And was it really necessary to end each one by playing an ad for the new product not once but often twice?

I can’t think of too many other forms of creative output more in need of editing than the average tech-industry keynote. But if the people involved can’t do that, I have two lesser suggestions: Keep any slides with numbers on the screen a little longer, so we can jot them down correctly, and follow Google’s good example by providing power strips and Ethernet in at least the first rows of seats for the press.


LAS VEGAS–With this trip, I’ve been to this city 16 times. Fifteen of those have been for business, all for the convention formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show and now going by the condensed moniker of “International CES.”

So although I’m not quite as keyed up about the show as some folks, it feels weirdly comfortable to be back. I’ve been here and I know the way–now give me my laptop and my phone, because it’s time to work.

My schedule this year is still cluttered, as you can see in the stylized view of my calendar at right. But not having to blog every few hours should free me to spend more time roaming the show floor and finding interesting gadgets. (Notice the white spaces on Wednesday and Thursday?)

If you want to keep up with what I’m seeing, the best way will be to follow me on Twitter–that’s where I’ll chronicle Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s last-ever CES keynote tonight.

But I’ll also try to do a better job of sharing photos on Google+ than I have lately (in part because tech blogger Robert Scoble was kind enough to add me to a circle of “the best tech journalists on Google+” and now I feel obliged to live up to that label). When I have a moment to put together a better-curated set of pictures, I’ll post them to my Flickr account as well.

Later on in the week, I’ll do a summary of the show and a tour of some of its more intriguing gadgets for Discovery News, followed by a wider-angle writeup for CEA. And the week after I get back–you’re seeing this here first–CEA’s site should host my first Web chat since I left the Post.

Now I just need to get through the next four days without having all of my devices run out of battery at the same time. Wish me luck…