People have been pinging me about this, so I guess I should post something about it. I'm not going to Davos this year. I wasn't invited this year. Not sure exactly why... But I'm in pretty good company... Anyway, I posted some thoughts on the Forum over on Omidyar Network which I'll post here as well.
Joi ItoThis may sound like sour grapes, but I didn't get invited to Davos this year, but after going for 4 years, I was also planning on possibly not going. It's great fun meeting old friends, but I'm finding many of the smaller conferences more interesting these days. A number of people I know are going to the World Social Forum this year instead. Having said that, I'm sure something will happen this year that makes me wish that I was there. Please say hi to everyone for me.
LarsJoi, thanks for your insight. I'd be curious about your thoughts in terms of collective: has the WEF been a mechanism that enables actors to work more intelligently and in partnership across sectors? this is something i've been longing to understand better; there is a sense among participants at places like the World Social Forum that the WEF is exclusionary and serves only the interests of the multinationals. What seems most vital about the forum is the capacity to pool intelligence and coordinate action in a way that reduces global risk. is this happening?
Joi ItoI think that a lot of the good things that happen at the forum on not intentional and not visible. It's bridge building across sectors. Although the forum has tried to be more and more inclusive, I think it has shifted away from its humble, somewhat academic roots to a conference where there is more participation by powerful people. Also, there is the official program, then there are special groups (like the Media Leaders group I spoke to last year) and then there are secret meetings. In many ways, it is more of a meeting place than a "movement" with something concrete to accomplish such as the WTO or G8, although I've never been to either.
I would disagree that it "only serves the interests of the multinationals" but it does have sponsors that allow it to exist and they obviously get special treatment and access. Having said that, the social entrepreneurs, for instance, include many legitimate social entrepreneurs who are doing a lot of great things that the forum enables in many ways.
So net-net, I would say the forum is a good thing, but I think your mileage may vary.
Finally, I would add... looking at the various lists of people who get invited and un-invited... the process, from my perspective, is close to random, athough there are clear biases. If you've never been invited, don't worry about it. Many many important and interesting people have never been invited. If you get invited and you've never been, give it a go, especially if you don't have to pay. If you go for a few years and get tired of it, you're not the only one.