“The Panasonic Toughpad Press Conference” by Grant Howitt

The term “Gonzo journalism” gets thrown around a lot to describe any journalist who writes a piece under the influence of drugs (or, at least, when he admits to this drug use in the story – otherwise I think a lot more journalism could be classified as “Gonzo”). But the movement that Hunter Thompson defined really had less to do with the use of drugs and kee-razy antics than it had to do with inserting yourself in the story, shedding any guise of objectivity, and reporting not just on the story but the reporting of the story as well. Take Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail as an example; while Thompson mentions Wild Turkey more times than you have fingers to count, the story is really about a reporter for the then-little-known Rolling Stone magazine pulling back the curtain on the ludicrous, staged, scratch-each-others’-backs nature of political campaign reporting.

I love this piece by Grant Howitt about the Panasonic Toughpad Press Conference because, while he does mention what he can piece together about the Toughpad, he casts a more inquisitive eye on the tech release press conference beast itself, and on the journalists at the press conference doing the reporting.

The devices can be used in heavy rainfall. I think for a second that the image illustrating heavy rain – a faceless man in a trenchcoat and leather gloves – looks like it is illustrating cold-war era spying, instead. The Toughbook would be good for spies, I think. It probably deflects bullets. You could use it to beat up an informant. That sort of thing. That should be their marketing gambit. An embittered agent thrashing the Toughbook against the face of a scared Eastern-European man, teeth and blood on the floor, yelling TELL ME WHERE THE BOMBS ARE HIDDEN DAMNIT TELL ME NOW PEOPLE ARE GOING TO DIE

Jan stops for a second and says there will be a demonstration. He says “With the nice police ladies we are to make some watersports,” and half-laughs, half-smiles awkwardly. He says that onstage in front of the world’s press. He seems to think that is fine. The women come forward and pour water from a jug over a toughbook sat in a perspex case. People take pictures.

A man in charge of something important just made a SEX PISS JOKE at the Panasonic Press Conference and that’s all fine. I don’t understand. I don’t understand. Is that fine? Is this just what happens at tech events? I want to have a lie down.

Since these press conferences are really little more than big commercials with the press releases already written, Howitt’s Gonzo approach seems to be a much better way into the story of our obsession with the latest and greatest tech.

“The Panasonic Toughpad Press Conference” by Grant Howitt on LOOK, ROBOT

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