This could have been an interesting and audacious experiment in openness: the World Economic Forum has opened a collective blog, the Forumblog, and every participant in the upcoming annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland (25-29 January) will be asked to join and "blog".
Notice the quotation marks. Last year's blog-fueled controversy that led to Eason Jordan's resignation from CNN still seems to burn under the Forum's feet. So the Forumblog will be only a shadow of an experiment, because while everyone in Davos - heads of State and entrepreneurs, NGO types and scientists, writers and billionnaires - will be "invited to blog" (probably the Forum will even have staffers actively collecting statements) no one will actually be allowed to post.
Here is the second point of the Forumblog guidelines (it's worth reading the whole thing):
Bloggers’ posts need to be manually published by one of our editors. Opinions will not be censored, however posts that do not abide by these guidelines will not be published, particularly those that do not conform to the on/off the record policy.
What the WEF wants is
a weblog that adds value and transparency to the discussions on global issues that affect us all
but is promoting that transparency by filtering what gets posted.
Now: I'm a fan of the Forum. I think it's a necessary organization and that its gives a positive contribution to the world. Its founder Klaus Schwab is a controversial figure and some dislike him, but he's clearly a visionary and has a truly global worldview.
More: In one of my past lives, I've been the executive in charge of online strategy at the WEF for a few years and I know that, despite its reputation for stifness and arrogance, it can be formidably innovative. For years now Davos has been truffle-filled with the latest technologies in order to facilitate the "navigation" of the sprawling calendar (over 300 sessions in 5 days) and the diffusion of the information among the attendees.
Blogs however are a different animal: they're public-facing, and that's something at which the Forum has generally been less good (including at the time when I was there) and needs to get much better at, and quickly. I'm not exactly sure that this straitjacketed blog will contribute to that: it seems to me more like another potential boomerang. What exactly makes it a blog, except for running on TypePad and being called a blog and being coordinated by Loic Le Meur of SixApart, is not clear. Sure, there is a comment link at the bottom of every post. But some are already betting on how many anti-globalization comments it will take before it gets disabled.
I will be at the DLD conference with Le Meur next week in Munich, so I will ask him.
Ah, I almost forgot: there will be podcasts from Davos, too.