Making Comdex Relevant Again

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2003-11-16 Print this article Print

What are the core issues for IT these days? Nothing is useful in computing anymore unless it deals with security as a primary issue, and Comdex Las Vegas 2003 looks to give security primary coverage.

I remember my first Comdex even though more than a dozen years have passed. At that time, it was a must-attend event for the IT pro. Comdex was like going to the Super Bowl—the extravagance was completely over the top. Still, even then I could see that getting everyone together in one place could become somewhat anachronistic in an era of networked computing. But the fact is that everyone was there in the desert, and the important buyers and sellers really did do business. And actual news was made. With this years show expecting perhaps a quarter of my first time, clearly the Comdex of today is not the must-go show it used to be. What could make it so again?

For Comdex to become essential again, the show must deal with essential issues. In 1991 security was an issue, but not a very big one. There were viruses, but they werent really all that big a deal without easy, Internet-based distribution.

Nowadays, I pay much more attention to Vegas when the annual BlackHat Briefing and Conference show is there. Perhaps the outcome of the BlackHat show and other large security events such as the RSA conferences, is more relevant to the world of computing than has gone on at general-interest IT shows like Comdex.

Are there two sides to the annual BlackHat Briefing and Conference sessions? Uncovering the details of vulnerabilities can be useful to the virus fighter and the virus writer. Take a look here. Perhaps this is why security is one of the major themes at this years Comdex. The topics being covered in the Comdex Security Conference are important, big-picture themes, such as intrusion detection, dealing with spam, and biometrics. That many of the vendors of these technologies will be present at the show is fortuitous for attendees. In addition, there will be a panel presentation on "The Intersection Of Hardware And Software Security" sponsored by IEEE Security & Privacy magazine.

Now, for a show to provide a big room for a bunch of vendors can no longer justify an IT managers travel budget. Comdex must move towards answering the big IT questions if they want to be a huge draw again. Will attendees may find it easier to get a cab this week than it was back in 1991, I think they will see some of the glory of the "good old days"—and critical information.

Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983.

More from Larry Seltzer
Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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