President Sarkozy’s idea of bringing together a large number of digital entrepreneurs and executives to discuss some of the key themes surrounding the growth of the web was a good one. Dialogue between the state and digital innovators should be encouraged. And there is no dialogue with only one party at the discussion table.
However, beyond the promising nature of the idea itself, the eG8 was disappointing. The content of the conference was substandard considering who was actually sitting on the panels. And it was clearly (very well) organised but in an old school style where there was a linear agenda that everybody was ‘forced’ to attend – stopping people from discussing issues and networking amongst themselves outside of the ongoing plenary session.
All of the value for Sarko & his team (including Maurice Levy) was in the political theatre and the kudos earned by attracting the likes of Eric Schmidt and Mark Zuckerburg with only a few weeks notice. All of the value for delegates was to be had outside of the official conference – in the cafes, smoking areas and social events that surrounded the conference.