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Locals complain at CES: Techies aren't social

A familiar complaint among cab drivers in Las Vegas during CES is that the creators of tomorrow have no idea how to party into the night.

It seems that CES may not be a Wynn-Wynn situation for some locals. Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

LAS VEGAS--I tend to live with the words of Mark Zuckerberg implanted in my brain and scrawled upon both my palms.

If he tells me that the future is social, then I immediately go online and attempt to befriend thousands of people I don't know.

Sometimes, I even leave my house and try to engage strangers in conversation.

This I did several times last night, while trying to discover the meaning of life -- which several people have told me is buried deep in the heart of Las Vegas.

The locals are an extremely friendly people. All you have to do is give them money and they will chat to you at length. If you give them a lot of money, they will even hug you and dance on your lap.

Which doesn't happen quite so easily in, say, Paris.

Still, Vegasians are not as fond of CES as I had thought. Their complaint is very specific.

Here are the words, for example, of my cab driver from the airport: "CES people aren't social."

I asked him what he meant.

"They go out to dinner and then by 10 o'clock, it's dead," he replied.

This seemed very strange. I had imagined that those of a nerdish bent came to Vegas to feel liberated. I fancied that they spent the majority of their time with ogling eyes and boggled minds.

It seems not.

This cab driver added: "I think they're all up there in their rooms playing with their iPads."

I had imagined this was an isolated, disgruntled cab driver. Well, he was from Philadelphia.

I was soon disabused.

Last night, I gingerly broached the subject with another cabbie.

"So, how's business?" I ventured.

"This is my day off," he said. "But there's thousands more cabs out for CES, so I've come into work."

He confirmed the first cab driver's view that techies just don't party -- at least not in the way they're supposed to.

"I get business between 4 and 10:30," he said. "After that, forget it."

This driver, though, had a deeper, more psychological explanation. A veteran of two divorces ("Never marry anyone here. Too much temptation."), he told me of two CES attendees who were in his cab last year.

"They couldn't understand where the women were. So I stopped the cab at a corner and there were two nice ladies standing there. I rolled down the window and called them over. What do you think the two nerds said to them?"

"Would you like to see my new iPad?" was my wild guess.

"Nah. Nothing. Just nothing. And that's why these people are hurting my business," said the driving sage.

Naturally, I intend to take it upon myself to test his thesis -- which seems to be based on many years of punctilious research.

How odd, though, that those who are creating tomorrow as a place where we will all be as one, merrily communicating and democratizing the world, seem unwilling or incapable of joyful, playful human contact.

It seems that what happens in Vegas during CES is, well, very little.