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I have been exploring Holland since early last summer. James Enck certainly understand what a hot bed of innovation it is. James introduced me to Herman Wagter, who became the first citizen of the Netherlands to join my discussion list. Nico Baken recently became the 10th, Dirik Willem van Gulik the 11th and an invitation is out to someone who would be number 12.

I have interviewed Nico and been reading his papers. What an education!

He does a powerful econmic analysis using the concept of 16 sectors that make up a modern economy.

Here’s how he states the problem: “The Dutch economy has always been dividable into a number of sectors that together provide the foundations for how we go about our daily lives. The sectors include healthcare, education, transport, construction, security and ICT. Together, they produce the familiar Gross National Product, a barometer of the nation’s economic prosperity. At the same time, these sectors are responsible for the country’s wellbeing, for its “Gross Social Product”. GSP cannot be measured in hard figures, but is at least equally important to the Dutch population as GNP is. GSP is about the quality of offered services. For example, are we satisfied with our education system? Do we feel comfortable with the present healthcare delivered by hospitals, nursing homes and residential care homes? And, last but not least, are we as mobile as we wish to be?


The prevailing opinion about numerous sectors in the Netherlands is not positive: our country is not in good shape. In all kinds of field it is literally and figuratively grinding to a halt. Many people feel healthcare and education have been underperforming for years, for example. The situation is not much better when it comes to traffic and transport, with a daily grind of long traffic jams that inevitably cause noise nuisance, environmental burden and economic damage.

The cause of these failing systems must be sought in the way the sectors are organised. They operate as large stand-alone monoliths, focused primarily on themselves. Each sector considers itself the heartbeat of the Netherlands and thus feels it is logically entitled to a lot of attention, and ditto capital, from political decision-makers. Older sectors have already embedded themselves in the political scene, younger ones have yet to gain a foothold.”

Cook’s Edge: and then he argues with presuasive eloquence that the only way forward its to invest national resources so that the cross sectoral boundaries. The change that you get when you move from a vision of Broadband ICT as a walled dungeon delivering web and TV to revenue producing units a la mr Whittacre at ATT and Senator Stevens to Broadband ICT as a nureal network enabler for for the other 15 sectors of the global economyis quite stunning.

Nico brings many thread together into the following challenge:

“In other words: nationwide bandwidth has the potential to be a bonding agent for our economy. It will also benefit our Gross Social Product. The Streetlight pilot project in Zoetermeer has shown a few possible applications. To some extent the project exists to stimulate people’s imagination, but it also challenges them to think about how it could impact on their own sector. The technology is more or less on the shelf. So the key question is not so much whether this will become reality, but when. Which of the key players will line up at the front of this ICT revolution? Who will be prepared to invest in turning this idea into the foundations of a new community? This is the quintessence of the present situation. The sectoral approach to our economy is a dead-end. Broadband is opening up new roads. All sectors stand to benefit enormously from a once-only investment in broadband by the government or industry. Like all revolutions, the broadband revolution will not be completed in a few days. As with every revolution, there must be a few people or groups who help to get it moving. Given the present sectoral problems, the time is more than ripe for this to happen. So, government and business community, which one of you will start to bring about the turnaround towards a trans-sectoral future?”

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