Patrice Riemens on 30 Jan 2001 21:35:25 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] 'Refoundation' of the Amsterdam Digital City (vioDDS): Update.

A little more than two weeks ago, it was 'a corpse that kicked'. Today
it's alive and well. Not the Digital City itself may be, which is still
functionning, but is wrapped up in a shroud of mystery and suspense about
its actual future, but the 'Association in constitution (for the) DDS'
(click in the "Redt de DDS / Wordt Lid" banner to become member!)

Over these past few weeks, almost 400 people have joined the ranks of the
association, whose goal is to take over the Digital City of Amsterdam from
its present 'owner', the DDS holding, and preserve, if not its entirety,
at least the more substantial parts of its, and above all, its spirit of a
public domain in cyberspace.

The association, still in constitution, is going through a remarkably open
process of self-organizing, involving a very lively mailing list, a IRC
channel, a forum on the platform of 'Smallzine'
(, and IRL meetings in a
'brown' cafe, appropriately named 'Pleinzicht' (Square-view, cf the
'squares' on the DDS...). Following the city metaphor dear to the DDS, a
20-members ad interim City Council has been constituted, which will steer
the association till its official inauguration day on February 15th.

Provisionary statutes of the future association have been already posted
on the site, after due consultation of the constituency on the mailing
list. Various areas of 'governance' (legal, financial, technical,
political, Public Relations, etc.) have been identified and tasks
apportioned amongst the ad interim 'counciliors'. A mayor, and a
'temporary secretary for the time being' are co-ordinating. Financial
resources are being mobilised thru donations and advance membership dues,
enabling the first costs to be covered. 

Beside subjects pertaining to the (self-)organisation of the association,
a lot of discussion is unsurprisingly devoted to the future of the DDS
when (and *if*) it will have been taken over. Consensus has in any case
been reached on scuttling the principle of gratuitness as a holy cow,
though it may be retained if practicable. For the remainder, there is
still a lot of discussion about 'what to salvage' from the 'old' DDS,
subsumed under the header 'historic monument', and whether large numbers
of (by necessity, 'passive') accounts should be retained at all costs, or
if on the contrary the 'new' DDS would be firmly geared towards the active
participation 'networked community' format. 

The General Assembly of February 15 next may decide on these (and a few
other) issues. Neither the GA, nor the ad interim coucil of the
association have however, very much influence on the ultimate
decision-making process within the current structure of the Digital city,
the DDS holding, its two shareholders, and the former DDS foundation,
which has not (yet) been disbanded. It is here that the story takes a less
upbeat and possibly quite somber turn.

Joost Flint, the director and co-owner of the current DDS has let it known
in the beginning that he was not unsympathetic to the association and its
aims. However, he demands a lot more assurances about its viability before
doing business with it, while at the same time suggesting the existence of
a very tight time-frame. The other owner remains silent, but might well
keep a very tight hold on the financial matters. Finally, the DDS
foudation board, whose skeletton existence consists only in watch-dogging
the owners' actions as per the conditions upon which the DDS was
'privatised', has not been very helpful in suggesting a lot of money might
have to change hands.

A perverse outcome of the association's activities has indeed been that
the DDS-City Ltd, the company that incorporates the 'community' part of
the DDS within the holding, now represents *some* value, whereas two month
ago, when the management declared its intention to 'pull the plug' it
represented none at all. Several market actors have already approached
either Joost Flint or the association to discuss sponsoring and/or

Last but not least, the state, whether in the form of the local
municipality, or the central government, has not made any concrete move
to support, or even aknowledge, the association's effort to salvage the
Digital City. This while several high-profile gremia are busilly
canvassing town and country-side in search of  'digital grass-root
citizen initiatives' which are desperately needed to beef up the
"Holland goes digital" government programmes. Needless to say that the
budget envisaged for the same are a multple of what would be needed to
keep the new-style DDS afloat.

So at the moment precious little can be said about the association's
chance to materialize the goals the Digital City had been created for
seven years ago. But *your* support is still very much called for and
could make a difference. For instance, a 'commite of recommandation'
made-up of as many 'VIPs' as possible (suggest yourself, or push your
friends or acquaintances!) might make some impression of the local powers
that be.

Please contact Hinde ten Berge <> if you wish to support
our efforts financially. Contact ReindeR Rustema <> for any
other form of interest or resource provision. Or me for general matters.

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