World top personalities in a variety of fields have been regularly meeting at Davos, Switzerland, for some years now. This year, the meeting held in the Alps locality – symbol of a global intellectual effort to make a better world for the future – extended over three days (21-24 January), with an overwhelming emblematic attendance. From foreign ministers in office – such as John Kerry of the US – to people who were in similar positions until recently – Carl Bildt in Sweden, from prime ministers looking at snap elections or not – Benyamin Netanyahu from Israel or Matteo Renzi in Italy, to heads of state – F. Hollande from France and German Chancellor Angela Merkel from Germany, from major investors or philanthropists of great global influence – Bill Gates and Paolo Coelho, to very successful anchorperson, from Christian Amanpour to Fareed Zacharia etc. Therefore from academics such as Jeffrey Sachs, Joseph Nye or Nouriel Roubini to cultural leaders such as the blogger Mathieu Ricard or Sarah Jones, to NGO leaders such as Melinda Gates or Inger Andersen or Seth Berkley, such as Juan Manuel Santos or Felipe Calderon, from famous leaders of technological innovation – from Bill Gross to Andrew McAfee to youth leaders – we name here Lin Kobayasi or Mohammed Dewji MO or Alexander Stubb.
If we were to refer to a remark on a twitter out of the millions exchanged among the participants, perhaps the little mean ‘Davos is, fundamentally, an exercise in corporate speed-dating.’ The annual Davos meetings called ‚World Economic Forum’ date back to 1970, their initiator, the German academic Klaus Schwab being the architect of probably the most important global network of influential personalities. Their meetings and the questionnaires using the Delphi method developed in the most diverse of fields succeed – steered by the Davis host, to give a yearly forecast on global developments on a short, medium and long term in the areas of security, economy, health, education, resources, poverty, so on and so forth. A column written in the past was depicting the reality of Davos during the days when it becomes home to the global leaders, beyond the austerity of conference halls or academic workshops: ‘Many Davos participants rarely, if ever, attend even one. Instead, they float around in the slack spaces, sitting down to one arranged meeting after another, or else making themselves available for chance encounters, either with friends or with strangers whom they will ever after be able to refer to as friends. The Congress Center, the daytime hub, is a warren of interconnected lounges, cafés, lobbies, and lecture halls, with espresso bars, juice stations, and stacks of apples scattered about. The participants have their preferred hovering areas. Wandering the center in search of people to talk to was like fishing a stretch of river; one could observe, over time, which pools held which fish, and what times of day they liked to feed.’
It therefore becomes easy to understand that it is very difficult for one to make a synthesis of the debates in Davos last week, a summary of main ideas put forward, evaluations having been made – and there are so many dossiers of utmost importance, from the current crises in Ukraine and the Mideast or the ‘quantitative easing’ adopted by the ECB still last week, which pushes people in former communist states in Eastern Europe, including Romania, into the streets, as, in a defence move, the Swiss franc hugely appreciated against the euro, or relative to education, poverty, health and foreseen solutions or… – or positions expressed on urgent global matters, the perception of the course of the world today etc. But we do have a technological wonder available, the Internet, doubled by the liberal spirit of attending personalities who use it regardless of their political, financial or media position, which can offer us a ‘bouquet’, therefore ‘peaks’ of ideas issued or confronted in order to become enriched or recalibrate, some new and tantalizing, other being older, deeply rooted and brought up to a new life.
It is the twitter, that, generously used by the participants, allows this ‘bouquet’ of synthetic ideas (naturally embedded in massive academic analyses of scientific communications on the meeting agenda) to stroll on the internet. In maximum 140 characters, this application forces the user to the maximum synthesis in communication and also to inventiveness and originality to be able to insert one’s position into a network (win followers) where competition dominates and places are meritocratically selected into an ad-hoc ranking.
First of all it needs to be noted that the organisers of the conference favoured that form of communication, putting together a stimulating and competitive environment and by that establishing a ranking of popularity for the twitter users. A ranking of all participants therefore places Bill Gates in the first position, with 19 682 278 followers, Paolo Coelho comes second, with almost 10 M followers, Juan Manuel Santos with over 3.5 M, Felipe Calderon ( 3.2 M) and Christian Amanpour (1.23 M). In the ‘public figures’ section, Mohd Najib Tun Razak, current Prime Minister of Malaysia, is number one in his category, with over 2.3 M followers. Number two is Arun Jaitley (over 1.5 M), number three comes John Kerry (383,449) and Carl Bildt (377,975) and Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko ( 326,059 ). In the ‘academics’ category, the first position is taken by N. Roubini (over 326,000 followers) and for ‘media’ is C. Amanpour. The fact that such rankings have served the purpose is proved by the fact that Bildt states on 24 January on twitter: ‘Well, I seems to be ranked as 3rd most influential tweeter here in Davos. But stimulating competition’.