The World Economic Forum may seem rather pernickity about its vocabulary. Davos (and the other meetings of the Forum) are never, never referred to as conferences. That’s because the standard image of a conference is something where delegates or attendees listen respectfully to speeches on the platform. The spirit of Davos is truly that everyone — whether a head of state, a CEO, an editor or a professor — is a participant. And when things really sing in Davos, that’s the way it feels.

For the same reason, the Forum has successfully resisted video links to speakers who can’t come to Davos. There are certainly logistical nightmares in getting Clinton, for example, to a mountain resort in Switzerland, but seeing him via videoconference link in the White House wouldn’t be the same.

And you thought security was tight last year?

There was a wonderful Davos moment a few years ago when Michael Dertouzos, head of computer science at MIT, responded to a question about whether we would all attend Davos virtually in 10 years time. Michael grabbed Bill Gates, who was sitting next to him, around by the shoulders to emphasise the importance of physical connection. I doubt whether Gates has ever blanched so visibly in public.

2 thoughts on “Home

  1. Dave Winer

    Lance, I’ve been struggling with just this issue as I start to write about Davos. OK, so we can’t call it a conference. Shall we just call it “Davos”? Or “Davos 2000?” (I’m also referring to it as a “meeting”.)

    Anyway, some updates. I talked with Garret Vreeland about being our designer, and he accepted the challenge. We’re going to do a lite makeover for the site, keeping the focus on your words, and help to channel people to the resources they are interested in. We want to make this *the* showcase site for Manila for early 2000, we’ve got the best story to cover, and we want to learn and evangelize.

    I love the way you’re using the pictures! We seem to be communicating by osmosis. I put them there so you could use them. Perfect.

    I got the packet of materials on Friday. I read over the attendee list, which I understand is confidential. Is there a reason why the list is confidential? Does it remain confidential after the meeting? Is the attendee list available on the private site? I didn’t see any instructions in the packet on how to access that site.

    Also, we have registered “www.davosnewbies.com” and “davosnewbies.com”. My plan is to start using those URLs when the design is complete, probably on Monday or Tuesday.

    When the site design is ready, could we send an email to the people who will be attending Davos 2000 letting them know that the site is here? You should write the email, if you want to do it. I would give you a bulleted list of pages they should be pointed to.

    BTW, feel free to edit the Introduction page. I just wanted to get the links out of the left margin to keep things simple. This was part of responding to Nico’s excellent feedback.

    I’m getting more and more excited about Davos 2000! Is Clinton really coming? Are they really getting 1200 rooms? Am I going to lose my room? (This is what I’m worried about.)

  2. Lance Knobel

    That’s why I went into terminology. Meeting is fine, summit is fine, Davos is fine.

    On confidentiality, the Forum is paranoid about this. They see the participant list — and the programme itself — as essential intellectual property. Some of this thinking is merited: without the confidentiality, the Forum would have no recourse if someone did a mass mailing to all participants without permission. But sometimes they carry their thinking above and beyond the call of duty.

    On Clinton, yes, he’s confirmed. He’ll be there Saturday. It’s an in and out (no overnight), so the logistical demands aren’t as wild as they once looked. But even for a few hours, the president needs an extraordinary amount of support. In contrast, Tony Blair’s people were apologetic about wanting 12 people with the prime minister.

    And no, you won’t lose your room (although some people in grander hotels are going to get bumped down — we’re preparing for the screams of anguish already).


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