France Telecom

Davos: Unbiased, unalloyed, undaunted. (Well, maybe a little daunted.)

January 24, 2010: 7:15 PM ET

A "Davos virgin" speculates about the World Economic Forum.

I head to Europe this week to attend the World Economic Forum annual meeting, better known by the name of Swiss town in which it is held, Davos. I am a Davos virgin, so I intend to see the conference through the eyes of the newcomer that I am and to  drink up its global celebrities, big thinkers and attendant hangers on (read: journalists, consultants, and so on).

Upon informing a Wall Street source that I'm embarking on my first Davos voyage, she remarked: "I would love to hear all about Davos – how much of it is forwarding policy goals -- and how much of it is socializing." Any conference of almost any size is by definition some mixture of windbaggery and substance. (I sincerely hope the conference that I will co-chair in July, Fortune Brainstorm Tech, will have more of the latter and less of the former.) By reputation, Davos appears to be exemplary at both, with extra dollops of earnestness.

The luggage tags the conference organizers sent me ahead of time read: "World Economic Forum: Committed to improving the state of the world." More

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