Thoughts on a dying trade show

I attended a networking trade show recently that seemed to be dying. Floor traffic was obviously down from earlier years, when I`d seen the aisles packed with network managers from the surrounding large, prosperous, and technically sophisticated business community. The number of vendors exhibiting at the show was down too, and a number of those who were there and with whom I spoke said they didn`t think they`d be back next year.

I attended a networking trade show recently that seemed to be dying. Floor traffic was obviously down from earlier years, when I`d seen the aisles packed with network managers from the surrounding large, prosperous, and technically sophisticated business community. The number of vendors exhibiting at the show was down too, and a number of those who were there and with whom I spoke said they didn`t think they`d be back next year.

I hope I don`t sound too much like Andy Rooney, quibbling over mundane things, but I, for one, am glad this trade show is dying. Not that I have anything against it personally. I just think there are too many trade shows, especially for an industry as diverse as that covering premises and campuswide cabling. The breadth of the cabling industry makes it difficult not only to go to the shows you need to go to, but also to maintain your level of training and just to keep up with things that are going on in general.

If, for instance, you work for a cabling contractor or are a cabling-plant manager for a business, hospital, factory, school, university, or military base, you need to know about low-voltage voice and data cabling, fiber optics, electrical safety, construction practices, firestopping, and grounding and bonding, to name just some of the subdisciplines involved in your work. To keep on top of these varied areas, you may need to attend shows in cabling-plant design and installation (such as bicsi meetings and Cabling Installation Expo), data communications (ComNet), telecommunications (supercomm), networking (InterOp and the Network Expos), electrical contracting (Electric `97 and The neca Show), fiber optics (Optical Fiber Communications, Photonics East and West, and Fiber U), and copper wiring (InterWire and the International Wire & Cable Symposium). And even if you attend all these shows, information on workplace safety, construction practices, disaster recovery, and other cabling-related topics may still have to be sought elsewhere, such as at smaller, regional shows and through contract training.

So, pardon me if I`m less than mournful that one of these shows may be about to disappear. Maybe next year at this time I`ll be able to get some work done instead of walking the aisles of a convention center stuffing a plastic shopping bag with new-product releases.

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