In case you haven’t seen it, several readers wrote in to tell us about how the “journalists” at Gizmodo went around CES disabling video screens. The invention used to do it — the TV-B-Gone — is capable of far more worthy goals, like disabling the invasive crap on Fox News at an airport. (Addendum: unless anyone mistakes me as someone brave enough to operate a TV-B-Gone, see comments. I’m not. I’m a wimp. But just for the sake of argument, let’s assume this could be used for good.) Here, Gizmodo simply tortures presenters at press events they were invited to. Cool? Uh, no, not particularly.

Confessions: The Meanest Thing Gizmodo Did at CES

Now, we like mischief us much as the next guy. But randomly killing displays? Consensus of the CDMers I’ve talked to is that this is more wrong than funny — not to mention, we don’t need any special technology to have fancy flat-panel displays stop working. Worse, bloggers fighting for credibility have to deal with the antics of the Gizmodo crew (see cnet Crave’s take on that) — and this could unfairly vilify a wonderful invention. After all, the beauty of TV-B-Gone is that it gives people control over invasive TVs in their environment. This prank did the opposite.

I think we need a code of TV-B-Gone ethics: disable the TV screens that are asking for it, folks.

Dan Reetz points out that a previous blogger at Gizmodo (we can’t say whom, as it seems to date from a period without bylines in 2004), said of the TV-B-Gone creator “Mitch Altman is an asshole,” and that “the TV-B-Gone has a single purpose: to power off televisions whenever the user feels like being a dick.” Prophetic words.

  • BirdFLU

    I agree that what Gizmodo did is childish and not funny to boot. But really, any use of the TV B Gone could be considered unethical. You may hate FoxNews, but plenty of other people don't. I'd zap Dr. Phil or American Idol or pretty much any sporting event in a second, but plenty of other people would think I was a jerk for doing so. Still, I'm sooo close to getting one of those TV B Gone things anyways.

  • The airport terminal thing is, those monitors are there whether people want them or not. But I agree. And, oh, don't get me wrong — I'm way too shy / guilty to shut down a TV anywhere. I'm not much of a prankster. Usually my physical presence is enough to convince technology to break, anyway, without special gadgetry. I think I may have a powerful magnetic field or something.

    And for the record, I'm also not much of a CNN fan. 😉

  • _kraftma_

    what a beautiful moment when the screen turns black…after all, i would also act like gizmodo.
    give the people just some seconds of peace…no screens, no ads…give them a moment to think.

  • Right, there's just the peaceful, calming sound of … uh … the deafening roar of the CES trade show floor.

    Doubt you'll find too much zen here.

  • Oh, you mean the very same Gizmodo that said this about the device originally?
    http://gizmodo.com/archives/tvbgone-023694.php

  • Ashram

    To people who say that this "was a harmless prank" or that "all that was done was that the TVs were switched off; all you have to do is turn them back on."

    How could the people working there possibly know that the TVs being turned off was all that was done? Shutdowns like that rarely happen, so when they did occur, the assumption is always going to be a more serious fault because they don't have any way of knowing that some asshole with a TV-B-Gone decides to act like an asshole.

    I'm of the opinion that the action by the editor was utterly unprofessional and the reaction by Gizmodo to be unbelievable.

    I'm sure that even the inventor of the "TV-B-Gone" himself may be beside himself with this because he never intended his invention to cause such a disruption that it could lead to lost revenue and actual firings of staff for "incompetence" of a level that makes a victimized company look bad to the press and, consequently, to the public.

    The "TV-B-Gone" was supposed to allow you to control TV when it becomes an intrusive nuisance, not to allow the user, such as Gizmodo, to be an intrusive nuisance themselves.