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How Dutch Pragmatism Nurtures a 21st Century Economy

photo of Bas Reus

Bas Reus
27th May 2010


A well chosen cover accompanies the above title. The cover is an old church in the city Maastricht, in the deepest south of the Netherlands. It articulates the progressive attitude of the Dutch that have chosen to invest heavily in an optic-fibre broadband infrastructure nationwide. A decision that was made 13 years ago, back in 1997. According to the book, this is a headstart that will not be matched in the coming years, as other countries are still struggling to decide who may invest in this infrastructure.

An excerpt from the book itself: The book’s intent is to lay out a roadmap that explains to readers how the Netherlands came to its national consensus to invest in national knowledge infrastructure. And show what the evolution of the resulting policy process has accomplished. It will conclude by pointing out the changes in perception that must be accomplished in the united states in order to render feasible what Holland has done. Namely treat the fiber and ducts as the national highway system.

Not deep under the ground, there are so many cables, I believe no one knows who owns what cables, but the result is that connectivity from home to home is high.

Superlatives are being used to underline the importance of working together and collective decision making. They go back to earlier centuries where the Dutch keep being challenged by the sea level (a large part of the country is below that level), and how they cope with them. Some events and decisions ultimately led to a situation where the Netherlands reached a competitive economic advantage. The high quality optic-fiber infrastructure makes it possible for organizations to transfer data to each other in such high speeds, not possible elsewhere in the world at the moment. At least, that’s what the book tells us.

The book (produced and distributed by SURFNET) can be downloaded from here.

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