I'm here in Switzerland at the University of St. Gallen ISC-Symposium again. I spoke at a leadership session last year about Emergent Democracy, but felt I didn't get the most out of the conference because I didn't get a chance to get to know the students who were attending, which is why I came. The 200 or so students attending this conference are chosen from hundreds of paper submissions from all over the world and they are an diverse and interesting group. In the addition to the students, there are a lot of government and business big-shots, but I get a chance to hang out with most of these guys at other conferences. I later found out that my friend Martin has been giving the pre-conference talk to just the students to prepare them for the conference and he said that this was a blast because he got to know the students.
This year, I asked the organizing committee and was able to get them to let me participate in the pre-conference too. Martin and I got a chance to do our respective rants about politics, racism, war and a variety of other topics. We asked the students to talk about what they thought was wrong with the world and their respective regions. It was quite enlightening and we had a great mixing dinner afterwards. There were people from just about every region, but the small number participants from the Middle East and North America was interesting. I could tell that the students were actively networking and I think this process can form the basis of a really important channel of communications for the future.
I talked a bit about the possibility of using social software to support this sort of global networking so I hope everyone takes a look at blogging, wikis and other tools.