I’m in a fairly remarkable session: a huge room filled with hundreds of WEFers around tables to brainstorm economic uncertainty and decide what the problem is (and we should be worried that debating the problem vs. the solution is probably the biggest reason to worry).
The format is working well, bringing out the essential ideas of the smart people (me not included) here. And, again, we perhaps should worry that there are so many ideas about what’s wrong. At my table, I heard fear of the inability and ignorance of decision makers to figure out what’s wrong: kneejer political reactions and the risk of protectionism. I heard that economic models don’t work — as one person said, maybe the $100 bbl of oil we fear is really a $60 bbl, given the fall of the dollar. There was a lot of talk about instant information among customers and debate over the benefit and danger of that. I heard about the unwillingless of companies and governments to acknowledge and manage to the realization that they are part of a global economy and one person blamed the buzzwording of globalization. Problems from other tables: talent; the environment; energy, short-sighted thinking (said one: it’s too late to talk about 2008); a lack of U.S. leadership.
Now we’re asked to vote, with little gadgets, for the single greatest threat: recession, income inequalities, rise in energy and commodity prices, global credit crunch, mismanagement of the current crisis, a collapse of confidence, protectionism, overreaction to the threat of recession, lack of coordinated response and leadership. Winners (if you want to call it that): recession, mismanagement, lack of coordinated response followed closely by lack of confidence. The bottom: greater income inequalities. That will be a controversial choice.
Small video cameras are already the hot thing, gadgetwise, at this year’s Davos. Robert Scoble is broadcasting live from his mobile phone, as Jason Calacanis did at DLD. Loic LeMeur is making videos all over for Seesmic (with a bigger camera). I’m playing with the Reuters/Nokia mojo cameraphone (see the videos below). The YouTube Davos Conversation booth is recording the machers on video with tiny cameras.
And I showed my FlipVideo (the $79, 30-minute, dead-easy video camera) to Kai Diekmann, editor of the biggest paper, by far, in Germany: Bild. He gets thousands of photos from his readers, who send it up to a simple number via their mobile phones. Now he’s practicing networked journalism and assigning and mobilizing them to shoot things. He also told me that next week, they’ll have a top chef from a popular German food show telling readers in the paper to send in videos that he will put on his show. Where’s the line among media there? Diekmann is then doing with videos what he did with phones and so he was wowed by the Flip and wants to order a thousand of htem. That’s what happens whenever I show it to open-minded new people: I tell them they should buy them by the dozen and distribute them to their readers to become producers. Here’s Diekmann:
I’m watching a tech panel with the New York Times’ John Markoff moderating Lenovo, HTC, AT&T. Halfway through, he announces it’s off the record. But all sessions in the main buildilng are supposed to be on the record. After much difficulty over what’s on the record and not a few years ago, that’s the simple rule they came up with. I haven’t heard a thing that would shatter the world and I wonder who insisted on this. It’s ridiculous. And that horse is out of the barn anyway. Scoble is in the front row talking about how he broadcasts live on the internet. He could have been broadcasting the whole time. Too bad he wasn’t. That’d be the horse over the horizon.
So I was in the YouTube Davos Conversation area when they brought Henry Kissinger over to record a video. Turns out it was the second time he’d recorded it; the first time, the camera didn’t work and he grumbled about technology. Turns out it didn’t ‘work the second time. But I was there recording the scene with my Reuters mojo camera (a Nokia N82 phone with a very high quality camera). So small technology saves the day. Here’s Henry the K, YouTuber: