One of the enduring truths about human beings is that if you take any group of people anywhere in the world and put them together for a few days, they will immediately begin to organise themselves into stratified circles of relative importance and influence.
Specifically, they’ll quickly group themselves into “cool kids” and “losers”–with membership in each group being fluid and determined by who you know and who knows you and whether everyone else thinks you are a cool kid or a loser.
So it comes as no surprise that the group of people who attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, a.k.a., “Davos,” are no different than any other group of people.
Namely, that, despite the rarified resumes and colossal wealth and power of most Davos attendees relative to the other 6 billion humans on the planet, everything’s relative at Davos, too–and some Davos attendees are more rarified or more colossally wealthy and powerful than others.
And don’t think everyone who goes to Davos doesn’t know that.
For example, long before this year’s annual meeting began, we Davos attendees have begun to communicate with one another via a secret social network that is composed only of other Davos attendees. I have yet to explore this social network in detail (password problems), but at first blush, it appears to operate the same way most social networks do, with “friends” and “contacts” and so forth. And, of course, one thing this social network allows you to do is see who else is coming to Davos and decide whether you want to spend any of the precious few days of the conference interacting with them.
So far, one of the favoured uses of DavosBook (let’s go ahead and give it a name, shall we?) seems to be to review who’s coming and decide who is and isn’t worthy of an invitation to all the private events that go on at Davos outside of the public events, which every Joe Schmo Davos attendee is invited to. (Because, bien sur, these private events are VASTLY more important than the public ones–all the cool kids say so). And then to use the information in DavosBook to send those special folks an email and invite them to the event.
(You seem to be able to invite people to events within DavosBook, too, the same way you can with Facebook, but most folks putting on the private events are apparently smart enough to know that the only Davos attendees who are frantically checking DavosBook to see what events they’ve been invited to are likely to be those who don’t have anything better to do–a.k.a., losers–who would probably be useless filler at their events anyway. So those who are putting on events screen the field and reach out to the other cool kids via the old-fashioned way–email).
And what are these private events that Davos attendees like me are secretly hoping to get invitations to?
Well, based on my email box, and other Davos chatter, they appear to run the gamut. To wit:
* A “wind-down” party on the slopes after three days of Big Thoughts, put on by one of the largest financial media companies in the world (I’m invited!)
* A fondue party in a private chalet put on by one of the biggest marketing and advertising moguls in the world (invited and RSVP’d, baby!)
* All manner of boozy “nightcaps” at places like the Hotel Belevedere put on by huge banks and technology companies and countries (seriously: I just got invited to one hosted by Ukraine)
* A “breakfast discussion about a first-of-its-kind renewable energy initiative” with a personal invitation from and appearance by Tina Brown (who is DEFINITELY one of the cool kids, even at Davos)
* A “Chill-Out Party” on Saturday afternoon at the Hotel Belvedere hosted by something called The Kudelski Group… (Kudelski Group? Vaguely rings a bell. Should I know about them? Are they cool?)
And so on.
Now, the truth is that my email box is so jammed with these things that I’ll probably never be able to sift through all of them let alone RSVP (and I certainly don’t think I’m cool because of this–everyone else’s email is probably jammed, too). But let me say publicly that I am grateful to everyone who is kind enough to invite me to something–at Davos and in the real world.
And let me also confess that, as with all such affairs, I am spending as much time worrying about the private Davos events that I have NOT been invited to as the ones that I HAVE been invited to.
Well, such as “The Google Party.”
An Old Davos Hand emailed me this morning to say that, whatever I did at Davos this year, I had to make sure I got an invitation to The Google Party.
And that made me worry: Wait, there’s a Google Party? Well, then why haven’t I already gotten an invitation to The Google Party?
I mean, I run a technology publication. I am a technology guy. I know tons of people at Google. I write and opine about Google all day long. Google certainly knows me. And Google knows I am going to Davos and they haven’t already invited me to The Google Party?
In other words, 30 seconds after learning that there was some secret, uber-cool party at Davos that I was apparently not cool enough to have been invited to, I was right back in high school, and the girl I had a crush on was going out with someone else.
(Am I even sure that there IS a Google Party at Davos this year? No. But I’ve still spent several minutes of my morning wondering who I should reach out to to see if I can get invited to it. And I only have a few days left!)
So you see, the truth about Davos is that it’s just like any other social gathering–including high school: Cool kids and losers and facebooks and rumours and social anxiety and partying until the cows come home.
And now, enough with the preamble. I’m headed to Europe tomorrow. A couple of days in Munich at another huge conference called DLD, and then off to mountains…