Conversation Soup

Better Roads Staff | February 5, 2013

By John Latta, Editor-in-Chief

 

I must say I do look forward to trade show season.

There are old friends, so many, and that is always something to delight in. And so many new products, from giant machinery to software and gadgets and everywhere in between. I’m like a kid at a fairground. Wow, look at this, wow look at that, tell me how it works, all day long. The ingenuity and engineering in so many of these products is head shaking, and how much fun is that. At seminars, press conferences, dining tables and in booths I constantly find solutions offered for industry problems, answers to questions that puzzle me, and technological explanations for things that, without help, would be well beyond my learning.

But there’s something else. Not quite an intangible, but something to do with all of the different people, the show events and after-show events, the show floor, the noise, the demonstrations and the sales pitches all running into a single feeling. It’s a show, not a meeting or a convention, and it’s exciting, it lights up and gets loud. Exhibitors “work” their booths and wander to every competitor’s booth, talking, analyzing, guessing and making mental notes, and their summaries, their highs and lows, will come out in discussions late in the day.

It is here, in this mix, that I can get a reading that is hard to find elsewhere. All of the people I’m talking to have talked to other people who have talked to other people and so on until we are in a sort of conversation soup. It is, to use such a modern word, interactive, but the interactivity here is people talking to people, thoughts compounding like interest and developing, changing and being rethought after each conversation. Pulses are taken, estimates, projections and assumptions are made and surprises are registered. On the more concrete side there are sales numbers and deal details. All will go into the soup.

There seems to be an accepted off-the-record approach, a consensus, that we talk about anything and everything, that we are perhaps a little less guarded, shoot from the hip a little more, we’re maybe willing to be unconventional, even daring, in our thinking. Not all the shows are in Las Vegas, but a lot of what happens inside those big convention center halls tends to stay inside those big convention center halls.

Or maybe it’s just an impression. Maybe we just have a good time and I make more of it than is there. But I’m looking forward to this year’s shows and I expect to come back from them with a feeling of having been loaded down with new ideas and understanding.

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