Events

A babble of bloggers at Davos

Jan 26, 2007 13:40 UTC

The idea of bloggers writing about bloggers is less than bracing, but at Davos the phenomenon is so widespread and talked about that Monty Python’s Spam sketch comes to mind – blog, blog, blog, blog etc.

It is actually next to impossible to calculate how many people are blogging the event. As well as high profile media companies, Reuters, the BBC, Swiss TV, Forbes, CNN and so on, there are untold babbles of individuals out there. What is the collective noun for bloggers, while we’re thinking about it? A nuisance of bloggers, perhaps. Suggestions welcome.

Anyway, the Davos organisers have been in at the beginning on this. Their main blog page has more than 15 official contributors and links to many others. The page has had 21,000 hits so far. It also leads you to Davos Conversation, a site set up by the World Economic Forum and others to bring in about everyone else talking about Davos that they can. It’s interesting that instead of taking part in the myriad discussions going on here, many people are diving out to see what everyone’s saying in the blogosphere instead, as this WEF staffer was right next to me (below).

WEF staffer views WEF blog

With more than 800 chief executive officers around it is hardly surprising that some of them have taken up the blog. BT Group boss Ben Verwaayen has been blogging for the Daily Telegraph about the diverse types of people here while KPMG International’s Michael Rake has been talking in his blog about the Transatlantic Business Dialogue.

I hope you will excuse the thoroughly shameless plug, but Reuters CEO Tom Glocer is also at it, suggesting that with all the blogging and webbing going on, one day “we’ll all be able to stay home, prevent climate change and just send our avatars to Switzerland“. 

Freedom

Jan 26, 2007 11:01 UTC

The titles of panel meetings at the World Economic Forum can sometimes be pretty dire. Frankly, “Strategies for a New Power Equation” or “The Future of Urban Mobility” do not really set the pulse racing. So it was with some delight that I came across this gem being moderated by Laura Tyson, Bill Clinton’s former economic adviser — “Is Freedom Overrated?”

The mere idea is enough to raise the hackles of any self-respecting civil libertarian and could get Davos sceptics mumbling deep thoughts about what all these powerful people really want. But the issue that really lies behind the catchy title is not that clear-cut and has been exercising great philosphical minds such as those of Hobbes and Locke for centuries. It’s all about individual rights versus the common good.

The DavosRTR1LLWC.jpg debate was not expected to solve the problem, of course. But some of the ideas expressed at the panel were worth noting. Cheng Siwei, vice chairman of the Chinese congress’s powerful standing committee, opined that individual freedom could not be put above the national benefit. But he then said that this applied mainly to security issues and should not be used by governments as an excuse.

Getting decidedly nervous on Doha talks

Jan 25, 2007 22:40 UTC

davos3.jpgA few things are becoming clear as the WEF’s annual meeting slides out of its second day. For one, businesses are getting decidedly nervous about the possibility that the Doha Trade round will not restart.
    Microsoft’s Bill Gates had a private chat with World Trade Organisation director general Pasal Lamy on the sidelines here.
Gates was coy about the meeting but it came as other very interested parties started to get the gloves out. Fifteen heavy hitters, including bosses from Unilever, British Airways, Alcoa and Goldman Sach made it clear they had had enough of stalled trade negotiations.
    Words like “damage”, “destruction” and “failure” peppered a joint statement that had some here noting that business was suddenly realising that Doha, which is stalled, could end completely. Trade ministers meet at the weekend.
    Climate change is the other big item. Although some have
complained that it is simply a trendy subject, it is a top item. That can be seen from Chinese officials pledging to have the huge developing market become more efficient in energy use — even if they reckon the big job is for the West.
    Bono and Blair get their turn on Friday so Africa may get its moment in the snow.

 

Trekking up a Swiss hill for Nasdaq

Jan 25, 2007 16:06 UTC

Why do we journalists always fall for it? Nasdaq, the U.S.
stock market group, just persuaded a bunch of us to trek way up a steep, slippery hillside in the cold to watch them open trading against a backdrop of yodel-ay-ee-oo Switzerland. There we were, TV cameras rolling and stills snapping (or whatever digitals do), while corporate America waved, yelled and grinned in front of us.

Actually, as a PR stunt it was pretty good. Nasdaq likes to
call itself a virtual market model and reckons a Swiss hillside
is as good a place as any to show that it can get global traders off to a start wherever it wants.

Coincidently (because they did the same thing last year) it
also showed their European aspirations. It is embroiled in a
hostile takeover bid for the London Stock Exchange for a start. I had hoped that the “High Tea” on offer to guests beforehand was a dig at Britain but it turned out more Davosian with chocolates and champagne.

Stars in their eyes

Jan 25, 2007 12:17 UTC

I didn’t come out here to go celeb-spotting but the fact that celebrities are short on the ground in Davos hasn’t escaped the notice of some of the myriad journalists and bloggers following events at the World Economic Forum.

While it’s possibly true that this year’s event may be lacking in true A list attendees my colleague Mark Jones notes there are still plenty of potential stars to be found among those who have bothered to show up in Davos. His trawl of the blogosphere produces a few surprises.

Mark was most struck by Jane Martinson in the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, who decides that  a new star is born:

Bringing Davos to book

Jan 25, 2007 11:18 UTC

So what is the World Economic Forum really? Talking shop, manna for conspiracy theorists or a useful get-together for the great and the good?

It’s certainly a mysterious institution for many. It’s privately run and unabashedly self-promoting, a meet-and-greet that brings together enough of the world’s super-powerful to delight any conspiracy theorist worthy of the name. But a new book tries to get behind the mystique and the hype to try to explain what it is all about – and what impact the WEF really does have on the world.

Geoffrey Allen Pigman, a political economist at Bennington College in the U.S. state of Vermont, has penned an academic study that is part of a series from publisher Routledge that includes the likes of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Kirchner splashes colour on Davos grey

Jan 25, 2007 10:11 UTC

Davos is not all about intense discussions on the world’s future mixed with deal-making and a bit of skiing. Even if there isn’t much glitz this year, anyone who tires of the non-stop geopolitics and economics will find respite in a land of blues, purples, greens and oranges at the nearby Kirchner Museum in the centre of town.

Belying its rather stark bunker-like architecture, the museum is awash with the colourful works of quasi-home town boy Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.

The Kirchner Museum

Kirchner was German but lived in and around this Swiss resort between 1917 and his death in 1938. The embodiment of German expressionism, he painted a wonderful if rather different picture of Davos and its surrounds than a less artistic visitor might see on an overcast January day.

Waking up from the dream

Jan 25, 2007 01:56 UTC

 By now, every Oscar watcher knows that the big surprise from Tuesday’s nominations was the fact that musical “Dreamgirls,” despite being the most nominated film for Oscars, failed to get a nod in the best movie category. Why?

From here at the Sundance Film Festival, in numerous conversations with movie writers and publicists, the answer seems to be too much Oscar hype.

The fact is nobody likes to be told how to vote, and the day after reckoning is that voters at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who pick Oscar winners, were simply tired of being told “Dreamgirls” was the year’s best film. The buzz started nearly a year ago when the movie’s promoters at the DreamWorks studio were planning the release, and it continued at May’s film festival in Cannes. In December, when the film finally began playing in theaters, “Dreamgirls” delivered the goods and won mostly strong reviews. But then, Academy voters trained a far more critical eye on the film, and they saw flaws.

Oscar fun: Trivia and facts on the nominations

Jan 25, 2007 01:49 UTC

Best Actress nominee Judi Dench (“Notes on a Scandal”) is the only returning performer from last year’s roster. She was up in 2005 for Best Actress for her portrayal of the title character in “Mrs. Henderson Presents.”

More trivia and facts about the week’s Oscar nominations:

    Meryl Streep garnered her 14th nomination,  for her performance in “The Devil Wears Prada.” This adds to her record roster of nominations, in both the Actress and Supporting Actress categories. She’s won once in each category (“Kramer vs. Kramer” for Supporting Actress, “Sophie’s Choice” for Actress). Jack Nicholson and Katharine Hepburn are her closests rivals, with 12 nominations each. Hepburn, whos is deceased, holds the record for most wins — four, all for Best Actress. 

    If Penelope Cruz (“Volver”) or Rinko Kikuchi (“Babel”) win, they will join Sophia Loren (“Two Women”), Robert De Niro (“The Godfather Part II”), Roberto Benigni (“Life Is Beautiful”) and Benicio del Toro (“Traffic”) as the only performers to have won Oscars for performances in a language other than English. Marlee Matlin won Best Actress for her work in “Children of a Lesser God,” in which she performed almost completely in sign language.

Life beyond Davos? Huffington in Second Life

Jan 24, 2007 20:31 UTC

This posting is not for the uncool. My colleague Adam Reuters, aka Adam Pasick, has just scored a first for Davos, interviewing one of the participants in the virtual world Second Life. Avatars (online alter egos) of Adam and his special guest, Arianna Huffington, sat in a specially constructed Davos newsroom in Second Life and chatted about things including, well, Second Life.

You could see the snow-capped peaks outside.

Adam is virtual bureau chief of the virtual Reuters bureau in the virtual world. Ms Huffington is the celebrated blogger and columnist whose The Huffington Post is a popular read for those following U.S. politics. She sat with Adam in the middle of the Davos conference centre while audio was fed into Second Life and their avatars chatted along with it in front of what anywhere else would be described as a live audience.
Avatars who missed it can get the interview in Second Life on video. Others might hear of it on the BBC or in a newspapers as real world, old style media also covered the interview. (Reuters will post the video here)

Not all went well in the real world. Ms Huffington arrived later than expected which set off some virtual fidgeting among the assorted avatars waiting in the Secondwef_sl_huffington.jpg Life auditorium. One was having a good smoke — it’s about the only place left that you can — others discussed U.S. politics. One avatar said he/she was disappointed that Hillary Clinton did not announce her presidental plans in Second Life. It can only be a matter of time.

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