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<nettime> Question: Europe on the internet?
Cultimo on Tue, 9 Jun 1998 20:36:22 +0200 (MET DST)


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<nettime> Question: Europe on the internet?


The internet from a European perspective

Trying to formulate a question, trying to develop a point of view
(with other words: I might be mistaken, please proof me wrong) 

I'm living in Holland (Europe) and I'm managing a small internet 
magazine. I think the internet is a great medium for digital publishing 
because of it's possibilities and because of the laws that govern the 
medium. But again and again I see that the main atention of the media 
here is focussed on people who see huge business oportunities on the 
internet. Which is not so strange because a European looking at the 
internet sees something completely different than an American looking at 
the same thing. There is an ocean between them. In America the 
internetnet naturaly evolved from an expanding University network, and 
students (that later became professors or managers / devolopers in 
computerfirms) discovered the beauty of a chaotic democracy (that some 
even called anarchy).

Europe has a lot of tradition, but this tradition is somehow developed on 
a plain far from here. Europeans see the chaos of the democracy (which 
Europe has experienced for the first time during the Athen's democracy) 
and companies somehow think they  see opurtunities to make a lot of 
money. Those ideas come from a lot of articles that are published in 
magazines with illustrations in breathtaking colors (because there are so 
many colors which make them not quite esthetique). All the articles talk 
about the enormous influence of the democracy on the internet, the 
business opurtunities that lie there and the immense libraries filled to 
the brim with multimedia artwork and games that are to be found on the 
net.

But none of that can be found here. The net was not even developed for 
that. That's one reason why. And espescially in Europe the internet is 
developing towards a TV station with only commercials. 

One of the reasons why could be that major webbrowser companies are 
fighting each other by developing non compatible browsers. Every atempt 
to make a nice multimedia 'something' is stoped short by cross-platform 
and cross-browser problems. So everyone stays on the save side and does 
nothing. 

Another reason could be that European companies are not interested in 
bringing real content to the net (i.e. a good netzine), exept for their 
own commercial headlines telling the audience how great their products 
are. They do not realize that all their money on great looking sites is 
waisted when there is no audience. (There are a lot of organisations that 
try to develop an art website, but they all charge mony from the artists, 
so all these sites are empty.)

One of the other reasons could lie in the differences in the 
tradition-field I described above. Europe has to develop it's own 
internet tradition and history before the net in Europe is more American 
(that stands for 'commercial' in Dutch, sorry) than even the Americans 
would dream. For the entertainment one has to go to America and for the 
commerce one goes to a European site.

So I would like to post a question: What is European about the Internet, 
or what can we do to make the internet European, or what does a European 
do on the Internet (except surfing to European commercial sites?)

Because if we do not find that out soon (and start acting to develop a 
European-like internet), the internet will be lost to Europe: It is 
washed down by to many commercial websites. And who wants to spend a lot 
of money to buy a computer ready for the internet, when the only thing 
that can be found is not the thing you are looking for?

Jeroen Goulooze
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