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[Nettime-bold] Michael ('Mieg') Van Eeden on the current situation with
Patrice Riemens on 18 Feb 2001 19:48:52 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Michael ('Mieg') Van Eeden on the current situation with DDS

"Fugit Irreparabile Tempus" was the Vergilian quote much uttered in Fleet Street 
to describe The (London) Times winding its way through the printing presses with 
its usual complement of typos, errors and ommissions. Same would apply to my  
fly-by-nite latest update on the (Association to save the) Digital City, but I'm 
availing of a second chance to bother you…

This because there has been a downright brilliant posting by Michael 'Mieg'  van 
Eeden on the Association's mailing-list, which I feel the urge to translate, 
since its relevance goes immo way beyond the current crisis at the Amsterdam 
Digital City, but pertains to networked communities anywhere.

First however, I need to mention a factoid I didn't in my report, without which 
you'd miss the context of Mieg's piece. The remainder of my addendum comes after 

One of the problems facing the Association in its early stages was how to 
contact the DDS community (and how to assess its true size in the first place). 
Since the DDS 'privatization' such data - but in fact everything pertaining to 
the nature and operations of DDS - was deemed commercially sensitive and 
shrouded in secrecy. Given the available 'expertise' at ist disposal, it would 
have however been possible for the Association to approach all accountholders, 
but this option was rejected after much discussion on the mailing-list ('we want 
no spam!'). 

Yet it was exactly what the directors of the DDS did on February 9, sending a 
hastily drawn-up enquete to the 70.000 current accounts, duly bringing down the 
DDS system for a couple of hours in the process. They eventually got 15.000 
answers on this spam, something that has at least the advantage of putting a 
floor to the speculations about the true number of 'real' or 'unique' accounts 
on the DDS system. Core question in that enquete/spam was whether the 
accountholders would be prepared to pay a fee in order to keep their accounts, 
with other words whether they would be prepared to relinquish the tenet that DDS 
is a 'free' provider. Apparently a sizeable majority of respondents was not 
immediately adverse to such a change. Whereupon the management recidived on 
February 15 - on the very evening of the Association's first GA - asking more 
precise questions this time about what kind of services users were wishing, and 
prepared to pay for. Needless to say that no mention whatsoever of the 
Association's activities or even existence was made in these spams. These fresh 
vagaries are suggesting that the DDS management is now toying with the idea to 
turn DDS-City into a 'ordinary' ISP, this amidst rumors of negotiations with 
KPN-Telecom, the former monopolist (and incidentally owner of XS4ALL…).

Mieg's posting:

"The most interesting and innovative idea I heard last evening (at the 
Association to save the DDS G.A.) was Caroline Nevejan's point on the issue that 
the inhabitants/users of DDS, having been on the system for so long, had build 
up some sort of 'tenant rights'. The fact that one has used of and hence become 
dependent on a given service for years on end, has made the provider of that 
service to incur an obligation towards you. This applies the more so to the DDS, 
 since it is supposed (by its terms of refernce) to be bound by those very 
rights.  The analogy of course comes from the tenancy rights in real life, but I 
could well imagine that we are going to see much more of this issue in future, 
since more and more things one 'consume' are going to be 'services' rather than 
(cf Jeremy Rifkin's "Age of Access" - translator)

 The enquete that went - in true Flint fashion - into our mailboxes at the 
precise moment the GA was held shows very clearly that Joost Flint is not intent 
on handing DDS to us. He'd rather play for small time ISP. One can then ask 
whether  that is such a bad thing. In that case we could stop bothering about 
those 'services' we're discussing all the time, and which I at least, do not 
deem worth of a lot of my energy. Besides, we'd for sure want to see how many 
people actually want to take a paying account with Flint: I do not have a high 
opinion of the DDS's stability and level of service. That is something one will 
cope with if one feels affinity with the outfit (because it's your club for 
instance), but when you deal with a commercial service provided by some vague 
company, you're probably much more critical.

Myself, I am not all interested in a DDS-mailbox and address per se, and I have 
loathed for years now the (management's-tr) fociussing on ever increasing 
numbers of so-called inhabitants who were merely making use of a free e-mail 
facility. I am far more interested in a DDS as a meeting-place where you can 
make things together, where you can dialogue and discuss, indifferent what my 
e-mail address address is and where my home page is hosted. The only part of the 
'Flintquete' that I find to be of any import is where one is asked to choose (1 
option only!) between freedom of speech, privacy, security, more 
disk-space,public domain, or  innovation.

It says something about Joost Flint's mindset that he only can think in terms of 
radio- buttons.

So what will be the brief of the Association if DDS (Holding)indeed becomes a 
puny little ISP and keeps the system to itself, thank you very much? Are we 
going to become a true citizen's interest group and get into the action mode at 
last instead of wheeling and dealing?"


Additions & corrections to my previous post:

The worst mistake was of course the mouse. *SHE* roared…

And may be something need to be said about the other statutory issues discussed, 
besides amending the statements to make the protection of users right paramount 
(a). There had been a lot of discussion on the Association's mailing list about 
the aims and perspective of a future DDS, when and if it had been divested from 
its current commercial dispensation. In the end, the following aims had been 
laid down in the provisional statutes as they were brought to a vote:

(b) the conservation of Digital city is it has evolved till now (as a so-called 
'Internet Historic Monument).
(c) the upkeep and extention of communities as exits on the DDS system (eg the 
'Metro',  certain 'cafes' etc.)
(d) the furtherance of innovation and experimental projects in the DDS domain.

These propositions were adopted without discussion, but with quite some amount 
of abstentions and even votes against. But even in the absence of substantive 
discussion during the assembly (and the somewhat haphazard nature of the same on 
the mailing-list) it can be expected that developments about to occur in a very 
short time - negotiations between the Association's board and DDS' management, 
the Holding's suspected desire to turn itself into a ISP, and a tendency within 
the Association to follow up on its change of name ('Open Domein') and simply 
break away from the current DDS impasse if not from its historical heritage - 
all this will probably much influence and transform those objectives. 

cheers, patrice (and Diiiino! of course...)

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