Davos 2007

Jeff Jarvis has some interesting thoughts.

The powerful at Davos are just starting to talk about the internet and individual empowerment; we heard that often up in the Alps from media (this has become editors cant), leaders in politics (like the U.K.s Gordon Brown and the EUs Viviane Reding), business (Bill Gates), and even technology (Gates, again). They are not alone; we have heard this for quite a while back down on earth. And its certainly true that the internet enables each of us to find the information that matters to us, to publish what we think, and do what we want. But that is only a step along the way to the fate of society after the internet.

The internet is more about collective action. It is about connections. It gives us the power to find each other, to join together, to coalesce around issues, ideas, products, desires, and activities as never before, leaping over all borders, real and cultural. That is the historic progression of power that we are witnessing. That is what we heard from the people who truly understand this mechanism because they are building it: Caterina Fake and Stuart Butterfield of Flickr, Chad Hurley of YouTube, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. At Davos, these pioneers didnt contradicted the machers when they said that the internet is about individualism; on that plane, they were talking past each other. But as I sat down to make my notes about what I learned at Davos, this is what hit me between the eyes.

The Food We Eat

The New York Times writes in a lead feature in its Sunday Magazine:

The story of how the most basic questions about what to eat ever got so complicated reveals a great deal about the institutional imperatives of the food industry, nutritional science and ahem journalism, three parties that stand to gain much from widespread confusion surrounding what is, after all, the most elemental question an omnivore confronts. Humans deciding what to eat without expert help something they have been doing with notable success since coming down out of the trees is seriously unprofitable if youre a food company, distinctly risky if youre a nutritionist and just plain boring if youre a newspaper editor or journalist. (Or, for that matter, an eater. Who wants to hear, yet again, Eat more fruits and vegetables?) And so, like a large gray fog, a great Conspiracy of Confusion has gathered around the simplest questions of nutrition much to the advantage of everybody involved. Except perhaps the ostensible beneficiary of all this nutritional expertise and advice: us, and our health and happiness as eaters.