Democratizing Davos

Is nothing sacred from the digital democratizers? The Davos Conference (aka: The World Economic Forum), historically the private networking event (a so-called "closed session") of the rich, powerful and famous, has been invaded by the Web 2.0 crowd. Not content to be democratizing the internet, Web 2.0 idealists like Jeff Jarvis are introducing something called the "Davos Conversation" which will include live webcasts, blog posts etc etc from the event. The incorrigibly democratic Jarvis has even posted a video of himself (he resembles a genial, albeit half-starved chicken) on YouTube clucking on and on about his "Davos Conversation" project.

The radical democratizers even seen to have convinced Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum,. Schwab announced Davos 2007 in the name of something he called "horizontal networks":

"A changing power equation; power is moving from the center to the periphery; vertical command-and-control structures are eroding and are being replaced by horizontal networks of social communities and collaborative platforms."

Time magazine's YOU is now headlining at Davos. The closed session has been blown open to gaze of anyone with a broadband connection. Nosey parkers on the internet can now watch the historically closed panels live from their computers. We will all be able to post our comments in "real-time" to Davos participants like Angela Merkel, John McCain, King Abdullah of Jordan and Tony Blair. We can give them our view of the environment, of the Iraq War, of the global economy, on the afterlife and the pre-life. We can lecture Bill Gates about computers, Rupert Murdoch about media, Bono about celebrity, Mohammed El Baradei about atomic power and Gordon Brown about economics.

The problem, however, is that if Tony Blair, King Abdullah, John McCain, Angela Merkel et al know that we are watching them, then they will say what we want them to say (meaning that they will say nothing different from what they always say on television). The whole raison d'etre of Davos -- of powerful people getting together to talk in private about the world's problems -- will be undermined. By democratizing Davos, by turning it into an always-on event, the Web 2.0 crowd are transforming a historically important date on the calendar into a self-celebratory media circus. At Davos 2.0, everyone will feel great about their horizontal networks and nothing of any political sustance will get done.

Davos has become MyDavos. The Web 2.0 circus, Thomas De Zengotita's mediated world, has even  huckstered its way into the exclusive Swiss mountains. Is nothing sacred?