Bloggers Join Davos Elite
You can never really know what it’s like to be at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos unless you’ve been. So for those who aren’t part of the world’s business or political power elite, getting an invitation is a huge personal compliment – and also a sign of the times.
“Bloggers are being invited to the World Economic Forum. Time out, let’s push the reset button,” joked Davos newbie David Sifry, founder and CEO of Technorati, an Internet search engine that culls through some 65 million blogs and other independent, user-generated content.
“Citizens are joining the ranks as recorders [of news events],” said Sifry, who was invited as part of WEF’s Technology Pioneers program, which recognizes companies for their life-changing technology innovations. “Something big has happened. You know there’s been a power shift.”
And that’s the theme of this year’s meeting – “Shaping the Global Agenda, The Shifting Power Equation” – which kicks off Wednesday and runs through Jan. 28.
And what a shift it is. Among the 2,400 participants descending on the Swiss resort town are YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley and MySpace founders Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson – giants in the user-generated content space.
They will mingle with Davo-tees Bill Gates and Bono and numerous heads of government, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. As well as entrepreneurs like Alan Gershenfeld.
“If you look at all the big power shifts throughout history, many are driven by technology,” said the Davos newcomer and CEO of content-sharing service Netomat, another WEF Technology Pioneer. “Technology has accelerated shifts in power, all the way back to the printing press.”
“Information is power,” he added, “and the rapid acceleration of technology to enable access to information has many dramatic impacts.”
Which will be more than evident at Davos. In addition to televising, webcasting and podcasting Davos as it has in the past, WEF will aggregate blogs and offer so-called vodcasts and vlogs for the first time. Media partners of the project include the Huffington Post, The Guardian, BBC and Buzzmachine. A virtual journalist will even do interviews on the Second Life website.
So while you can’t be at Davos, you can get a taste for it. These efforts at “expanding the Davos conversation,” though, may do little to silence critics who say the event is no more than a power-hungry few plotting global domination behind closed doors. (Coincidentally, the World Social Forum, the antithesis of the WEF, is underway in Nairobi, Kenya, and runs through Thursday.)
In addition to technology, energy and global warming will be hot topics at the 2007 meeting. For small businesses like Dust Networks, Davos is an extraordinary opportunity.
“Every startup has dreams of changing the world,” said Joy Weiss, CEO of the company, which makes wireless technology that controls building systems and tracks environmental statistics such as temperature and pressure. “Our technology puts the infrastructure in place to provide solutions for energy management.”