Geneva is a city of international institutions, including the Red Cross/Crescent, World Health Organisation, International Labour Organisation, the UNHCR, World Economic Forum, and International Telecommunications Union. The latter is host to the World Summit on the Information Society and, as one of its representatives observed at the opening ceremony, it was the world's first inter-governmental body.
Geneva can be seen as the centre of Europe (though rivalled in this respect by Strasbourg) and is located at the end of the Rhône, making it a natural city for its roles. Compared to most central European cities it is very ethnically diverse, which may be a function of its international status.
As a UN event the Summit is very diverse as well. It really does feel like the world's meeting place, more so than any event I have attended. It is amazing being somewhere cosmopolitan where there is no dominant culture, and where people speak in their native language and represent their countries.
The multi-ethic character extended to the opening ceremony, which featured live singing by a group of pupils from the British/international school in Berne. And most of the examples of ICT success are focused on the developing world.
The Summit is also chaotic. The whole affair is taking place in the seven halls of Geneva's Palexpo centre -- itself smartly located next to the city's airport. No one seems to be in charge and the whole event appears to run unconsciously. Lack of consciousness pervades it, in that no sense is made of the contribution of the parts to the whole.
The shape of the event itself is hard to determine. As well as a formal policy-making and -ratifying element there are a number of parallel conferences (including the World Electronic Media Forum), a large show, and events organised by particular organisations. For a conference on the Information Society it is clear that the event planners can't even organise -- either on- or offline -- the information needed to navigate these various event. It is not a promising start!
I am also keeping a photographic record of the trip. [This URL may change.]