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Accepted Paper:

New times, new opportunities; the future essentialist imaginary of the new economy in the Netherlands throughout the late 1990s  
Nathalie Fridzema (University of Groningen) Tom Slootweg (University of Groningen) Rik Smit Susan Aasman (University of groningen)

Short abstract:

This project studies the sociotechnical imaginary of the Dutch New Economy prevailing in the late 1990s. Positioning the construction of time in public discourse as future essentialism, discursive strategies of boundless optimism and urgency are identified highlighting national hype and hegemony.

Long abstract:

The slogan ‘new times, new opportunities’ exemplified the ethos of the Dutch internet business Newconomy, reflecting a dominant sentiment in the late 1990s in the Netherlands. This period is characterized by economic prosperity and the emergence of a digital order fueled by the widespread adoption of the World Wide Web. Coupled with the rise of neoliberal ideology, the development of the Dutch web was influenced by free market principles, deregulation, and profit motive. The amalgamation of these phenomena formed the foundation of a new, dominant imaginary; the new economy - a novel way of ‘doing internet business’ laying the groundwork for the upcoming digital era.

By constructing time through the lens of future essentialism, the project identifies discursive strategies of boundless optimism and urgency; individuals seized the perceived, unique opportunity of partaking in the inevitable new economy. Consequently, many invested in internet start-ups only to suffer losses after the dot-com crash. The subsequent shift towards a more restrained approach to developing the Dutch Web post-2000 underscores the mediating role of imaginary futures in shaping technology’s materiality, meaning, and hegemony. Even though a profitable, online business model did not exist yet, a dominant entrepreneurial class emerged spearheaded by internetgurus and various startups like Zonnet and World Online. The research demonstrates an analysis of ‘futuring’ can be leveraged to critically examine historical phenomena. Additionally, it contributes to the historiography of the Dutch web enabling a comparative analysis between under-studied narratives against the backdrop of dominant interpretations in the field of Internet History.

Traditional Open Panel P056
Futures work
  Session 3 Wednesday 17 July, 2024, -