Ministry of Digital Infrastructure NL Established

In line with the expressed wish of our King, his highness Willem Alexander, to improve ‘verbondenheid’: cooperation and connectivity between people, I have established ‘het Ministerie van Digitale Infrastuctuur‘ (ministry of digital infrastructure NL #MinDigInfra) ‘van het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden’. Such ministry must provide leadership and policy on the continuity and improvement of the digital infrastructural facilities that enable our interwoven communities, society and business ventures to flourish and create wealth in a trans-local and transnational context.

This establishment took place at the 20th anniversary meeting of DDS (digital city of Amsterdam) in Pakhuis de Zwijger, Thursday, January 16, 2014, 22:46 in front of a cheering crowd of internet pioneers and digerati.

MinDigInfr est @RoyDuf

Since a few weeks Germany has such a ministry, the ‘Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur’, as part of the new German Government chaired by Frau Merkel. See [1] below. The new Bundes Minister (BM) is Alexander Dobrindt (CDU) and his Staatssecretärin für digitale Infrastruktur is Dorothee Bär (@DoroBaer on Twitter).


There are a number of reasons why the installation of such ministry and the addition to our national cabinet of somebody responsible in this field is urgent.

1. Many issues on which our government make policy, laws and decisions have large public interest infrastructure components in ICT, telecommunication and Internet. It is no longer possible to decide on such issues without having people with up-to-date knowledge and vision at the table of these things, structures and networks and their effects on civil society, business and state.

Plastic buizen

2. Leadership and direction must be given urgently to a number of fields where the market forces fail to agree, slow down or even block important ways to overcome stagnation, while they are vital for survival and work.  Examples: the FttH infrastructure rollout; VLAN standards, adresses and interfaces; safe and robust backbone networks for businesses and (cloud) serviceproviders and mobile operators; the dark fiber and underground physical facilities, real-estate). Some of these infra-facilities are no longer possible to run uninterrupted and grow on their own by commercial operators. Also bi-directional transport of goods, people and energy  all become intertwined with computer networks.

3. In the civil society there are many new internet related possibilities and threats. The technology changes fast and is improved and replaced at a rapid pace, which hard to keep up with, understand, manage and regulate. Legislation must be updated and kept up to date by people from the field who are at the leading edge and really know what they are talking about. And these should be involved in important decisions which have not only legal or economic aspects, like for instance: security, stability, digital surveillance, privacy and other Human Rights, Internet Freedom. A new balance is necessary between rapid changes in functions of State, Market and Civil Society, which I have described in The Trias Internetica:


4. ICT infrastructure policy and implementation must be aligned with similar policies of our neighbor countries UK, Belgium and Germany and with the Digital Agenda of EU Commission as directed by mrs. Neelie Kroes, since effects of these technologies and systems far transcend nation state borders.

5. Knowledge transfer, research and education in the digi-infrastructure field need to be explored, renewed, developed further and boosted. Awareness and involvement does start young with wireless field tests, lightpaths in the SURF community, FabLabs, connect experiments, code lessons for ALL kids etc.

Our children already live in cyberspace. Time our leadership enters it too.

ir. Jaap W.J. baron van Till, prof. emeritus corporate networks, internet infra and social networks (also known as Jaap van Till, connectivist)

[1] For more background about new Merkel Cabinet and ICT, see:  , with thanks to ScienceGuideNL.

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3 Responses to Ministry of Digital Infrastructure NL Established

  1. Luc Sala says:

    What a great initiative and obvious the Netherlands should have such a Digistate Dept. However, Digital Infrastructure is not only a positive force on our way towards a future, it also could facilitate more attacks on the freedom, that Spinoza sees as the essential task of the state.
    So I have a few questions, as a cyberdenizen I think I have the right to ask you.
    Providing infrastructure and connectivity (and does this include any non-physical connectivity like mind waves and resonance/morpho fields?) seems like a worthwhile task, but the vista about what it could and probably will lead to, is less enchanting.
    More digital services, more internet of things, more apps, more remotely controlled robots, more bandwidth will no doubt mean less manual labour, less work.
    According to trendwatchers like Gartner this will lead to growing discontent and the possibility of neo-luddite upheavels in the 2020 timeframe.
    We can all predict driverless logistics, farmerless agriculture and automated and robotized care, but what do you see as a future for the people?
    An aging, costly but powerful pensionado generation will require young people with jobs and income to pay for them (there is no way a realistic return on investment can come from financial constructions or speculation, only from future savings on energy, raw materials and labour) but alas, more digital miracles and ICT means less work.
    So while it sounds optimistic and progressive to plead for more digital infrastructure, I think your task is to figure out what the medium term results will be.
    We all can see Google robots (the ones not employed as UN freedom forces) taking care of the elderly and all those menial chores now requiring human workers, but what will the people do?
    Gaming and chatting with people they will never meet, going to the gym with Google glasses to watch 8K-3D entertainment, using 3D food printers for new recipes, or having remote sex via iSex devices?
    Or do you believe new formats of interconnectivity will emerge, where volunteers, the ruling class and entrepreneurs work together to create a brave new world of games, apps, entertainment and challenging pastimes? Do you see a sense of meaning and happiness growing? Please the indicate what miraculous new theories or technology will emerge, or is Huxley’s Soma (in Island) the solution, and I can accept that electronic drugs are one avenue to pursue.
    The technological development so far is not likely to yield a purposeful life, meaning and individuation, more likely it will bring poverty, homelessness, depression, suicide or revolt.

    This is the real question facing an interconnected world, where will the digital rat race bring us? It’s a sociological, psychological and maybe ethical and theological question that needs to be answered,!!
    My suggestion is to look how societies of old with limited needs to gather food and few enemies would deal with free time. The aboriginals liked to go walkabout, but mostly wandered in their ritualized pre-digital dreamtime world, an extradimensional construct (reality) with some resemblance to what we now call cyberspace.
    What is lacking however in our cyberspace is ethics, laws, rituals and structure beyond what Google, Facebook, Amazon, NSA etc. force upon us.
    The game of life is beyond efficiency, unless you believe we will soon transfer our humanness to a cloud presence and identity, to live forever in Kurzweil’s AI Paradise.
    I urge you, having taken upon you some responsibility concerning the hardware and transport layers of the new cyberworld, to look into the role and needs of common people (not the nerds, knowledge workers and digerati) in the near future.
    Luc Sala
    concerning the importance of rituals (also in cyberspace)

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