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World leaders faced high-tech criticism in Davos

The high-tech project beamed messages across a mountainside in Davos swissinfo.ch

Public protest may have been quashed during the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in the Swiss resort of Davos, but critical comment did get through to delegates - thanks to a groundbreaking high-technology project by www.swissinfo.org.

This content was published on January 30, 2001 - 11:56

For the first time, brief e-mail messages were relayed publicly to political and business leaders at the Forum in a special project called "Hello Mr President".

Messages, sent from around the world via Internet and SMS, were beamed by laser onto a 250-square metre stretch of snowbound mountainside above Davos for the five days of the Forum.

It was the first time in the 30-year old history of the WEF that people from the whole world had the opportunity to communicate with world leaders attending the Forum.

And interest exceeded all expectations.

More than 2,500 messages from 80 countries were beamed up on to the mountainside for 30 seconds each, after being filtered by journalists working for swissinfo/Swiss Radio International (SRI) in Bern.

"The comments were often sharp and critical, sometimes humorous and clever, and occasionally poetic," said SRI's director, Nicolas Lombard.

Many mails from around the world demonstrated concern about the environment. Top managers, presidents and opinion leaders were constantly reminded by mail of their responsibility towards nature.

The laser writing, beamed into the mountainside, also aroused widespread interest in the world's media. CNN, BBC and ZDF broadcast film reports about it, while the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Le Monde reported about the "magic mountain."

A total of 8,000 messages were received for transmission. An eight-member team of swissinfo journalists viewed them and examined their content before their release. Pornographic, racist and insulting material was stopped at source.

The messages were sent to www.hellomrpresident.com on the swissinfo site. In the space of five days, 200,000 page views were recorded.

swissinfo

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