Around 2,000 messages have so far been transmitted to delegates at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos through swissinfo's "Hello Mr President" project.This content was published on January 26, 2001 - 10:43
The project, launched on Thursday to mark the start of the summit, allows anyone with Internet access or a mobile phone to send a message or question to the world's political and business elite.
It's the first time the general public has had the chance to tell political and business leaders what they are doing wrong - or right. And the response so far seems to indicate that the public welcomes the opportunity to make its voice heard.
The messages are being projected in giant letters on to the slopes of the Bolgen mountain overlooking the resort of Davos. A webcam then transmits an image of the projected message back on to the Internet.
Political and business leaders who choose to respond can do so instantly using their mobile phones.
Since the Forum kicked off on Thursday, messages have poured in from around the world in a variety of languages. Many highlighted the needs of the poor, as well as the responsibilities of rich nations.
"Leaders of the world, be responsible for the poor," was a typical comment. "Globalisation...yes, but with the rights of all respected," was another.
The director of Swiss Radio International/swissinfo, Nicolas Lombard, said the aim was to permit a "frank exchange of views between concerned citizens from all over the world and decision-makers sometimes regarded as distant or difficult to approach".
He added that the "Hello Mr President" project complemented well the agenda of this year's Davos summit.
"Topping the agenda is the debate over ways to close the digital divide between the developed and developing world," he said. "It is appropriate that swissinfo will be using the Internet and laser technology of 'Hello Mr President' to throw the debate open to a much wider international audience than would otherwise be possible."
The project, financed by swissinfo, is politically independent, and the public is free to say or ask whatever they please in English, German, French, Italian and Spanish.
Messages are being screened by swissinfo's editorial team to sift out any containing racist or pornographic remarks, personal insults or advertising.
Messages of up to a maximum of 160 characters can be sent every day between 1700 and 2200 throughout the WEF summit, which runs from January 25 to 29. The number to dial is +41 (0) 78 640 6000. Alternatively, messages can be posted on swissinfo's "Hello Mr President" website (address below).
Mobile phone (SMS) messages are transmitted via a gateway to an Internet server, where they are screened. They are then forwarded via the Internet to a laptop in Davos with an input to a laser control computer.
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