A new form of public sphere

The GHP and the 0+Ball were two of the first events in a range of gatherings, and an inspiration to networks that still exist today like Nettime , a collection of moderated mailing lists in several languages concerned with media theory and practices, and Next 5 Minutes, a string of conferences concerned with tactical media. Later, in the 1990s, the Melkweg concert hall, and De Balie , a political debating centre, produced and hosted experimental shows and networked events as well. In Amsterdam, one of Europe's first independent Internet providers Hack-Tic Network, which later became XS4ALL , and the Digital City, Europe's largest Internet community in the 1990s were founded in 1993 and 1994 respectively, by some of the same people who were participants of the GHP and the 0+Ball. The government-funded Netherlands Design Institute started the conference Doors of Perception in 1993, which created the Dutch connection to the international network of industrial labs and international art and design initiatives. The Waag Society for Old and New Media , an independent Media lab for culture and the public domain, which was founded in 1994 and was supported by De Balie and Paradiso, played a significant role in creating a European network of independent media labs and it also became one of the founding partners of Sarai, a New Delhi based media lab.

Collaborations between artists, social activists and democratic institutions created a cultural landscape at the time in Amsterdam in which both cultural and commercial players collaborated, and in which local, national and European governments were funding partners. This ensured an environment in which innovation could thrive. Manuel Castells, celebrated author of the trilogy on the Rise of the Networked Society, describes the Amsterdam public digital culture as "a new form of public sphere combining local institutions, grassroots organizations, and computer networks in the development of cultural expression and civic participation." (Castells 2001, 146). This public digital culture could only come into existence because it could build on a rich cultural and political tradition in Amsterdam.

Even though there is still a network of media centres, and even though the grassroots initiatives are still very elaborate, the political, commercial and technological situation in the world has changed significantly in the last decade. This has had an impact on the position of these early digital culture initiatives; some foundations became businesses, some became institutionalised, others grew into global networks of importance, and some have just disappeared. The democratic process has been deeply influenced and changed shape on local, national and international level, because of media and Internet (Castells 2001).