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Mar 10, 2004, 13:00 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Doc Searls)

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"Put together the badges I've worn at tradeshows, and you'd have enough to tile a wall. I've played about every role possible at a show: panelist, attendee, exhibitor, keynote speaker, organizer, booth builder, reporter and promoter. And I've been at it since the Dawn of Disco.

"What amazes me, after all these years, is how technologies have gone through one revolution after another, while their tradeshows hardly have changed at all. Take a time machine back to Comdex in 1984 and, aside from such wireless graces as cell phones and Wi-Fi, it looks pretty much the same as the one we'll see this fall. How come?

"One reason is tradeshows are markets in the ancient and literal sense of the word. They are the industrial equivalents of the tents and stalls that gathered at crossroads and village plazas back when trade began, long before the birth of currency and the study of economics. For the industrial categories we call markets, tradeshows provide a literal marketplace where buyers, sellers and experts can gather to meet, do business and advance agreements about what makes their category worthwhile. For a few days every year the virtual market becomes a real one..."

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