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?
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.
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.
One of the things Davosians love best when they meet up here in the mountains each year is the ability to hash out serious ideas about where the world is going. The World Economic Forum, after all, bills itself as “committed to improving the state of the world.”
Something is missing from this year’s Davos meeting — glitz. After years of grabbing the limelight, the likes of Sharon Stone and Angelina Jolie are nowhere to be seen. Rock ‘n’ roll hasn’t died, of course: Bono is due in town on Friday to talk about Africa and Peter Gabriel is supposed to be around somewhere. But apart from that the glitterati is thin on the ground. Could it be that Davos is no longer hip?
So off it goes. The World Economic Forum’s Davos 2007 meeting has begun with early discussions on the global economy — which is doing quite well, they say — and more esoteric chats about “The Legal Landscape around Climate Change” and “Exploring Identity and the Communication Disconnect”. For the hundreds of journalists gathered to cover the event communication disconnect is always a major worry.
With all these executives, journalists and politicians swirling around Davos, local shopkeepers are likely hoping for a nice boost in business. Their shops are chock-a-block with goodies. One, however, caught the eye with a rather strange collection of figurines. It is not often that you see Jesus and what appears to be Sigmund Freud on display together.
It’s a scary world and for anyone wanting to know just how scary, the answer is 23. Davos organisers WEF and business friends have identified this as the core number of threats out there and have offered up an analysis in a report called Global Risks 2007. Not exactly bedtime reading for those with nervous dispositions.