It is a privilege to be in Davos for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, where leaders around the world and across the disciplines have gathered to collaborate in shaping the global agenda. The invitation-only event isn't exclusive to experts on the economy - if it were, I wouldn't be here. But in the spirit of this year's theme - The Power of Collaborative Innovation - heads of state, business leaders, scholars, young activists and noted philanthropists alike are discussing the major economic, political, societal and technological forces currently at work, and they are exploring the ways in which these forces will impact the future. Even more, they are discussing what to do about it.
As part of its effort to bring the Annual Meeting 2008 to the public, there are a number of digital initiatives linked to the World Economic Forum.
Blogs, of course:
The Davos Conversation:
The Wall Street Journal, Daily Davos
The New York Times and International Herald Tribune, Davos Diary
John Gapper's Financial Times blog
Future Shift: Voices of the Next Generation
YouTube Davos Question asks not only participants, but the public as well, to answer, "What one thing do you think that countries, companies or individuals must do to make the world a better place in 2008? A far cry from the usual stupid dog trick or exploding diet Pepsi mixed with Mentos, YouTube's adolescent humor video content has quickly matured into socially responsible story telling. Even Forum luminaries like Bono, Henry Kissinger, and Israeli President Shimon Peres carved time out from their busy schedules to post their video responses to the Question. My personal favorite is from FroGhandi.
Mobile journalist stories: Photos and videos are viewable here. Select participants, including Tom Glocer, CEO of Reuters, Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine.com and Robert Scoble, US Author and blogger for Scobleizer.com, received "mobile journalism" toolkits installed Nokia N82 handsets. Their challenge is to capture compelling images from the Forum and share them over the Internet. The toolkits enable the "mobile journalists" to file stories, photos and videos directly from their handsets instead of their laptops. So cool. So efficient. Citizen journalism at its best.
World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Videos:
Live Web casts of the Annual Meeting sessions
The Davos debates on YouTube
The Davos Universe
These are in addition to the aforementioned Davos Question on YouTube.
Social Networking is in the works. It's a little weird to me to think that there isn't an existing technological tool for relationship building among Forum participants. Maybe the point is that face-to-face encounters are what draw the power elite to this Swiss ski town every January. But given the focus on collaboration, the on-site presence of Google's Sergei Brin and Larry Page and LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman, the Young Global Leaders and the even younger contingent of teen leaders this will change.
There was a time when the World Economic Forum was a closed society, with participants quietly asked to keep the general tenor "off the record." All that has changed; at this year's meeting the talk is of social entrepreneurship, corporate responsibility, global citizenship, a looming water crisis, climate change and threats to the economy. The range of participants and their expertise, whether they are 16- or 60-years-old, heads of NGO's, is inspiring. With thanks to the British Council's young activists (the Davos Six) and philanthropists like Bill Gates, George Soros, Victor Pinchuk and Google Foundation's Larry Brilliant, there is action, too.