Is the World Economic Forum ‘open’?

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The World Economic Forum goes Web 2.0 with different activities like using YouTube, Twitter, FlickR, MySpace and Facebook accounts – even the press conference will get input from the ‘outside world’ with the assistance of Mogulus.

Can we say the World Economic Forum is following a ‘web-open’ communication strategy, or is this a bit more buzz how the WEF can grap more attention at peoples’ home best way?

I have had a brief chat with Matthias Luefkens, Associate Director Media for the World Economic Forum. He believes that there is “a need for companies to be present in social networks and the web 2.0 arena. If you are present on the web people will not talk about you. If you are there people think more about what they will be saying”. ‘q.e.d’ is something that jumps to my mind when I think about the Virgin Atlantic case

Talking about the WEF as the most important event for economic and political discussions, I assumed the obvious social networks platforms where the World Economic Forum wants to be seen must be business networks such as LinkedIn or Xing where business leaders and thinkers meet and exchange ideas, visions and strategies online, but it is Facebook and MySpace. Luefkens admitted that they are missing discussions on their Facebook and MySpace accounts which they use for distributing news and information. Are we surprised? Let’s be quite honest: Do we really want to chat about the world’s economic and political problems with our friends, relatives and best business partners? Does it not make sense in this context to be visible in web rooms where people show themselves in their bikini or sleeping drunk on their patio? Are we not used to have serious discussion in a serious environment talking serious business? And can we doubt that the input these platforms will generate do have any influence on the World Economic Forum?

Some bloggers (most Americans) will join the World Economic Forum. It will be the ones we all know from IT and Journalism, i.e. Huffington Post and TechCrunch. Plus… the winner of the YouTube Davos debate competition. A normal citizen of the world, like you and me, who will then be given the option to sum up to the World Economic Forum form his point of view. Luefkens hopes that this person will be joining the forum with a web cam, recording his trip and uploading it on YouTube.

And then finally Mathias Luefkens surprises me when I asked him if there will be ‘unknown’ bloggers attending the World Economic Forum…

“We are not going to far with Web 2.0. We will not incentivize the blogger who has written the best pre post on the World Economic Forum.”

Are bloggers to ‘dangerous’ for the brand building of (or too sophisticated for) the World economic Forum than ‘normal’ citizens? The question remains in my head… Why do you incentivize somebody who produces a one-minute-take with words somebody else might have told them just to be invited to Davos and not bloggers who explore on the future of the web on a daily business for free?

Well at least the social media activity will be giving one person the chance to listen to the Forum. But this is definitely a big step – for the first time the world can peep through the key-hole of the World Economique Forum.

Spot On!
So, how ‘open’ is the World Economic Forum in the end…? Hm. Are the web 2.0 activities really ‘Bringing the world to Davos’? On a very much calculated level of giving control out of their hands, yes. But doesn’t it all sound a bit like the free-of-charge web 2.0 mentality? A pr and marketing promotion that is distributing news and information for small dollars? This is not bad from an organization’s point of view as the World Economic Forum obviously understands how to use web 2.0. But let’s hope that the vision the economic and political leaders see as the future development of the world makes us feel much better when we hear further news of the economic downturn. The social media activities will probably be more ‘open’ next year…

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