The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, was well under way when it officially commenced, early on a Wednesday evening in January, with an address, in the Congress Hall of the Congress Center, by Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany. She had a lot to say about Europe. Some of it—“Do we dare more Europe? Yes, we do dare”—made the news. But outside the hall many Davos participants paid her no mind. They loitered in various lounges carrying on conversations with each other. They talked and talked—as though they hadn’t been talking all day. They had talked while sitting on panels or while skipping panels that others were sitting on. “Historic Complexity: How Did We Get Here?,” “The Compensation Question,” “Global Risks 2012: The Seeds of Dystopia”: over the course of five days, a man could skip more than two hundred and fifty such sessions. 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.
more from Nick Paumgarten at The New Yorker here.