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Posted at 9:46 AM ET, 01/27/2011

Davos, AKA iPad Land

By Trevor Richard Dougherty

British Council Global Changemakers is a network of young social entrepreneurs and community activists from 110 countries worldwide.

Today was a whirlwind. On a relatively mellow schedule compared to some World Economic Forum participants, we set off from our apartment before 8 a.m. and returned close to midnight. We started off at the UNHCR Refugee Run, an emotional and realistic simulation that builds empathy for the world's 43 million displaced people, and then continued through security to the Congress Centre.

Our base for the day was one of the glossy white tables in the Young Global Leaders Lounge. We spent a memorable 15 minutes introducing ourselves to Professor Klaus Schwab, founder of the forum, and hearing his thoughts about youth engagement at the event, but my favorite part of the day was our meeting with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, managing director of the World Bank. She was so engaging and attentive; after listening to our stories, she tailored inspirational advice for each of us on the spot. During our free time, my wallet grew larger as I roamed the corridors and collected about 50 different business cards from some of the most impressive people I've ever met.

Did I mention the iPads?

As a teenager, I think these sleek Apple devices are cool (if impractical). But apparently, CEOs think they are really, REALLY cool. I have never seen so many of them in one place as I did in the Congress Centre today. My question: do the suited executives touting them so proudly actually know how to use them, or are they just showing off their shiny toys? The tablets can be seen on almost every flat surface but the floor, so, ladies and gentlemen, I dub them the unofficial gadget of this year's forum.

What about social media etiquette?

Alongside the iPads are the smart phones. iPhones and BlackBerrys clutter the hands, and apparently the thought processes, of most participants. You can expect to have a conversation with someone important while they simultaneously write an e-mail or tweet via their phone ... and then forget what they were saying just seconds prior. During President Medvedev's address, computers remained firmly in laps and screens in front of faces. To my surprise, it seemed that everyone needed to multitask.

With access to the Davos experience far from easy (or cheap), this phenomenon of digital self-removal is amazing to witness.

(Don't worry, I'll still be tweeting tomorrow).

Trevor has been an online activist since 2007. He is one of CNN's top citizen journalists, as about 100 of his "iReports" have been broadcast as part of the network's global news coverage. He is also a YouTube partner and the youngest person ever to have moderated the YouTube homepage as a "guest editor." A particularly empowered member of the Millennial Generation, Trevor has been harnessing the Internet's power in creating social change through "viral" outreach. His videos have been viewed over 3 million times by people in at least 100 countries. In 2008, he organized the world's largest human peace sign in Upstate New York, bringing 6,000 people together largely through targeted Facebook advertising and a low-budget online video clip. He finished high school in Swaziland, Southern Africa, affirming his belief that Internet access needs to be established as a right -- not a privilege -- for young people worldwide. Trevor will begin his tertiary education in the United States in fall 2011.

Return to the Insiders' Guide to Davos 2011 page

By Trevor Richard Dougherty  | January 27, 2011; 9:46 AM ET
Categories:  Trevor Richard Dougherty  
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