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The Road to Transparency at Davos

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The 2006 annual meeting of the World Economic Forum begins today in Davos, Switzerland.

The organizers say there will be 2,340 participants from 89 countries including 15 heads of state or government, 13 union leaders and over 30 heads of non-governmental organizations. This year, 735 participants are at the CEO or Chairman level.

What makes this year’s meeting especially interesting is that many of these movers-and-shakers will be blogging the event.

This is not private or ad hoc blogging – the World Economic Forum Weblog is an integral part of the 2006 meeting. The blog doesn’t yet list who all the bloggers are but some of them have already begun posting. An indicator of what to expect as the meeting gets underway:

[...] We will blog here summaries of the sessions we participate in and some personal ideas about them. As I said, this is an experiment and should be taken as is. In no way should the notes you will find here express the voice of The Forum itself but rather our personal experience of the Summit, as participants.

That text looks as though it was written for the 2004 meeting. Nevertheless, that’s what the ‘About this blog’ currently says.

And not only blogging at Davos – podcasts and webcasts as well. With the podcasts in particular, I think we can expect some interesting and worthwhile content for our listening enjoyment when the first podcasts are available starting tomorrow (I’ve already subscribed to the RSS feed).

At last year’s meeting, blogging played a key role as the catalyst for a highly-controversial issue leading to the resignation of Eason Jordan, chief news executive at CNN. Jay Rosen described that event pretty well.

There is a clear disclaimer and guidelines on what is allowed for blogging at this meeting, and what isn’t:

On- and off-the-record policy for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2006. All sessions in the Congress Hall, and in addition Sanada 1 & 2 of the Congress Centre, are on the record and you may attribute panellists’ remarks to their owners. All other sessions in the Congress Centre are off the record. You can report on the tenor of the debate, but you must not quote participants directly. If, however, you receive their subsequent permission you may quote them. All of the private sessions are “off-the-record meetings” and are not to be blogged.

This semi-transparency makes it clear what’s public and what’s private. Yet it was a private or closed session last year that was blogged (on an individual’s blog, not the WEF one) leading to Jordan’s downfall, which brings to mind one reality for me – little these days seems to be off the record. So the maxim of being cautious about what you say even in a private session is worth keeping in mind, especially when there’s wi-fi (and podcasters with portable MP3 recorders) around.

Still, I expect to see some good personal commentaries on this blog to balance the official stuff we’ll read about in the media. Not only on the official blog, though, on others as well (follow the Technorati tags, below).

Loic Le Meur is the driving force behind the WEF blog and will be in charge of that show. Good luck, Loic!

Neville Hobson is the author of the popular NevilleHobson.com blog which focuses on business communication and technology.

Neville is currentlly the VP of New Marketing at Crayon. Visit Neville Hobson’s blog: NevilleHobson.com.

The Road to Transparency at Davos
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