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Themesicon: navigation pathPublic Sphere_sicon: navigation pathMedia Spaces
De digitale Stad (DDS) (De digitale Stad (DDS)), 1994

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roots in an actual physical world of technology and offline cultures. Online networks are intrinsically connected to offline networks, even if they also move beyond them. Many online art platforms also have physical meeting places attached to them, and it depends on the situation at hand which is more important—the online or the offline space. It seems that even the strongest online art environments could not have developed without the physical, social networks they sprouted from. Purely online spaces benefit from these same networks indirectly as the strong discourses and cultures developed from physical networks propagate through them.

Public Netbase and other early European media labs and online platforms

It took a few years before the big wave of important artist platforms would evolve beginning in 1994. As Konrad Becker, artist and initiator of Public Netbase and, once said in an interview: «Internet years should, like dog years, be multiplied by seven,» [19] which makes the two or three years difference between the development of The Thing and other projects feel like a big gap. In this period a strong physical network was


established by media artists and theorists who were active internationally, which was to be the basis for many online projects to come. It also took a while before the great expectations sparked by the Internet could be turned into something solid, because the technological infrastructure was expensive and difficult to access. The development of media labs and digital cities helped overcome these difficulties. Artists were involved in the establishment of various media labs and art servers. Many of these were initially conceived as art projects.

In 1994 the Dutch artist Walter van der Cruyzen helped initiate De Digitale Stad (DDS; the Digital City) in Amsterdam. DDS was, however, not conceived as an art project. [20] DDS managed to get people from all over the Netherlands to go online for the first time, and it was reviewed in the old media extensively. Internationally DDS has been the focus of numerous studies and it seems to have inspired other initiatives and online communities to develop. Starting online meeting places could also have just been ‹in the air› at that time. Whatever exactly inspired whom, later on that same year a few other initiatives started that

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