Who says the Forum has no sense of humour? Patrick Chappatte, the cartoonist, incidentally, was a Forum Global Leader for Tomorrow a few years back.
Dave Winer has helpfully shown me how to track news about Davos through Google News. It’s an excellent way to keep up with what a wide array of sources are writing.
In 1863 the scale of the rejections from the official Paris Salon exhibition was so great that a number of artists banded together to protest. Their Salon des Refusés is now considered a landmark event in art history. Among the artists showing at the Salon des Refusés were Manet, Pissaro, Cezanne, Courbet and Whistler.
Sitting at home for the first time in a decade on the day Davos opens, I’m thinking about starting a Club des Refusés.
I don’t want to name names, but I could round up an extraordinary group that could happily stand comparison with the official Club. In fact, it would probably be more fun. Even though our Club des Refusés isn’t meeting formally this time, I feel we’re together in spirit. We can all toast each other at some point today.
Since the Davos meeting has now started, there is definitely more coverage coming through. The Wall Street Journal Europe has the most interesting items, sadly only available to subscribers. I particularly liked them spotting the poetry session by Dominique de Villepin, France’s foreign minister. “What might have been the World Economic Forum’s most surreal session has been scrubbed. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin was booked to read his poetry to the captains of industry assembled in Davos Friday evening. With conflict budding in Iraq and North Korea and French troops enmeshed in the civil war in the Ivory Coast, the image of France’s chief diplomat hosting such a literary nightcap in this mountain retreat might have been hard for some to swallow.”
They also quote Moises Naim, editor of Foreign Policy, reckoning the loss of the soirée is no big deal. “There is not a big party,” Moises says. “But there are plenty of parties.” That, in my opinion, is part of the problem. In the absence of a Forum-organised bash, there will be plenty of private bashes — which to varying degrees undercuts part of the spirit of Davos. The grander private bashes are invitation only. In New York last year, there was the repellent spectacle (to me at least) of investment bank Lehman Bros holding a private party for its chums with Elton John performing. What’s that about a Davos community?
The BBC has a number of stories, including some video reports. The tone is unrelentingly gloomy.
The Financial Times has a special section if you get the paper. Only some of the articles are available online, as far as I can tell. It’s very much pre-cooked material, suitable for all international gatherings. Yesterday I thought Newsweek were doing nothing. But there is a simulacrum of their once glorious Daily Davos available. Pretty dry stuff. And The New York Times’s one piece today is ill-informed and odd. Ski time has always been one morning (Sunday) and certainly since 2000 both the Belvedere and the Seehof hotels have required everyone to go through metal detectors. There’s also what I sincerely hope is a misquote from Klaus Schwab. “I would argue that the power of corporations has completely disappeared.” I’ve never agreed with the wilder claims of the anti-globalisation crowd about corporate power, but “completely disappeared”? I don’t think so.