Wie wat waar Spaink (CV)


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About me

[general | internet | work | detailed cv | cv in pdf]
[education | work | boards & committees | juries | prizes awarded | columns | key notes & lectures | books | anthologies, prefaces & introductions]


I’m the first Dutch writer who started a website, using the internet as a means of collecting columns, lectures and essays, and republishing books which officially are out of print. The web is an excellent library! I started my homepage at the beginning of 1995. (There’s also a mailing list through which I distribute my columns; you can subscribe here.).

My subjects are varied. I’m fascinated by politics, technology, privacy, civil rights, media, sex, health and bodies, and I tend to focus on areas where these subjects merge, mash or collide. Give me a brain-breaker, a couple of good books or papers on the subject plus three months, and I’ll come up with an essay that bites or seduces you, and that will give you a few ideas that you never quite thought of before.

I wrote the first comprehensive critique of our country’ plans to start a national aggregation of Electronic Patient Records (Medische geheimen), and showed how easy it was to hack hospitals. I proved that the Dutch plans to install internet filters for kiddie porn were mostly a means to cover up incompetent police work (here’s the article in English and in Dutch.) I criticized Pink Ribbon before it became fashionable to do so, and my investigation of their finances caused many sponsors to shy away from Pink Ribbon.

For one of my books, Aan hartstocht geen gebrek (Passionate Imperfections, made in cooperation with photographer Gon Buurman), which deals with disabilities and sexuality, I was awarded the Mary Zeldenrust-Noordanus prize in 1993 for “the gentle way” in which we broached a highly taboo subject. In another book, Het strafbare lichaam (The Penal Body, 1992) which sold almost 30,000 copies in its first year, I coined the word «orenmaffia» (in English: «mind mob») for New Age quack thinkers who believe that all diseases originate in the mind, and thus can only be cured via mental routes. The word became quite common and even made it into the Dutch dictionaries. Almost two decades later, Barbara Ehrenreich voiced a similar critique in her wonderful book Bright-sided.


In 1995 – internet was still a novelty – the issue of digital rights suddenly became a very personal matter. Scientology raided my provider, XS4all, over a homepage that one of their customers had put online. That raid out a cascade of questions in the limelight. Are homepages the responsibility of their makers, or of the providers through which systems they are served? Are internet providers to be regarded as publishers or as common carriers? Is a complaint sufficient cause for a provider to pull a page? How does censorship and accountability work on the net? And what about civil rights, and freedom of speech? The user who was the original reason for the raid, pulled out rather quickly. I mirrored the disputed homepage, with the intent of establishing – through court rulings, if needs be – that providers are mere conduits, and that individual people sometimes have a valid reason to dispute or even violate copyrights.

I ended up winning all three court cases / appeals that Scientology filed against me. After ten years of lawsuits, they finally gave up. The courts kept ruling that once copyright infringement is not absolutely clear and indisputable, internet providers cannot be held accountable by the complainant, and that freedom of speech can sometimes overrules copyright. It was the first time ever that a Dutch court weighed freedom of speech against copyright, and allowed the former to prevail. The Scientology vs. Spaink rulings became the de facto jurisprudence in the Netherlands and established the basis for later legislation.

Meanwhile, I’ve learned quite a bit more about internet. I write and lecture about such matters quite regularly, and I’ve become involved with (or started) a variety of organizations that strive to maintain the ‘openness’ of the internet, educate people and politicians about the internet, and define and defend privacy and civil right.

Recent & current work

From 2002 to mid 2005, I was an external advisor for the Freedom of the Media bureau of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (the OSCE / FOM) on the subject of internet and freedom of the media. In that capacity, I have written several articles and did various presentations for them, and have assisted in organizing their expert conferences on Freedom of the media and the Internet, the second of which was held in August 2004. The first conference issued the Amsterdam Recommendations (June 2003).

Furthermore, I was invited to join a government advisory committee investigating means and methods of giving patients a better position within the complex health care structure, and that seeks to enable them to (co-)define the way that care and cure are organized and implemented. Our committee Worked under the ZonMW umbrella, and it both initiated and subsidized pilot projects and research.

As a board member (often chair) of a number of organizations, I have developed various managerial qualities, often helping to make non-profit organizations work more smoothly and more effectively, while never forgetting their ideological stance.

In May 2005, I started my own company, Spaink.net. I became editor in chief of The Next Ten Years, a series of books dealing with developments and uses of the internet after its first booming decade. Each edition of the series deals with a different topic. The first book (published in September 2005), was about electronic patient records; I received the ISOC award for that book.

In 2005, I embarked on another big project: researching and writing the history of the public internet in the Netherlands, focusing on Hack-Tic and XS4all. The book will cover the years between 1989, when Hack-Tic was started, and circa 2000. The book is scheduled to appear in 2013.

I just published a book about a Dutch car developed specifically for the disabled: the Canta. Once you have a disability, the Canta is the best thing around: it impersonates mobility, and hence, freedom. We’re also performing a big ballet with circa 60 Canta’s and 50 dancers from the Dutch National Ballet. The date for this one-time performance: July 28, 2012. I’m be the ‘prima Canta’ in the ballet!


[education | work | boards & committees | juries | prizes awarded | columns | key notes & lectures | books | anthologies, prefaces & introductions]


1975-1981 Teacher’s Training College d’Witte Leli, Amsterdam; main subject: English
1981-1984 Sociology, University of Amsterdam
1986-1987 Computer programming, Volmac/Fokker


1981-1982 Teacher of English at Ashram College (secondary school)
1982-1987 Educational bureau of the PSP (political party, leftist liberals)
1988-1990 Programmer at Fokker Aircraft, Amsterdam
1985- now Freelance writer, columnist and lecturer
2002-2005 External expert for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE/FOM), advising the Representative for the Freedom of the Media with regards to the internet
2002-2005 Member of the advisory committee “Vraagsturing in de zorg” (“Guiding demand in health care”) within ZonMW
2005- Started my own company: Spaink.net
2005-2012 Editor in chief of The Next Ten Years, a series of books about internet, technology, politics & society
2008 Mentor at DasArts, a post-doctorate institute for the performing arts; teaching about identity, politics, ideology and the body
2010 Adviser at DasArts
2010-2015 Permanent panelist at the OBAlive talkshow
2017- Editor at OneWorld Magazine
2017- Editor at Down to Earth Magazine

Boards & committees:

1996-2003 Chair of Contrast.org, which provided asylum for persecuted web sites
1997-2005 Board of Advisers of De Waag, which mixes culture and technology
1999-2006 Founder and chair of Bits of Freedom (BOF), the Dutch digital rights organization
2000-2002 Board of de Geuzen, an art collective questioning the visual arts and media representation
2000-2007 Chair of Vrolijk, the famous Amsterdam gay and lesbian bookshop
2003-2005 Board of Spamvrij.nl, an organization that exposed Dutch spammers and lobbied for better anti-spam laws and policies
2009 Program committee for HAR, the notorious Dutch out-door hacking conference
2013 Committee of recommendation for PubLeaks, a site that allows wistleblowers to connect anonymously to a large range of investigative journalists and media outlets


1993 Hans-Paul Verhoeffprijs, for national aids projects
1995 & 1996 Prix Ars Electronica, international electronic art prize (.net jury)
1998-2005 De pen als lotgenoot, a national literary prize for stories about illness and disabilities
1999 Shorts International Kriterion, international short film prize
2002-2012 Chair of the Big Brother Awards, prize for government agencies / companies / people who violate privacy and civil rights. Was the chair for the first eight editions.
2006 Black Tulip Award, jury of the annual Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival (AFF)
2010 Nano Supermarket, innovative designs & ideas involving nanotechnology
2011 Geschiedenis Online Prijs: the best web site about history
2013 Jury Ambassadeur van de Verdraagzaamheid: selecting the best ambassador for tolerance in NL

Prizes awarded:

1993 Mary Zeldenrust-Noordanusprijs, for the book “Aan hartstocht geen gebrek” (“Passionate Imperfections”) that I made with photographer Gon Buurman, for the ‘gentle way in which we broke a complicated taboo about sex and disabilities’
2005 ISOC Award 2005, for my book “Medical Secrets” and for hacking two hospitals to show that electrnic patient records aren’t half as safe as they need to be
2008 Het roze lieverdje, for my general work, especially where it concerns LGBT issues
2009 Van Praagprijs, for my general work: for highlighting topics that are usually neglected, for tackling taboos, and especially for doing so in a calm, literary fashion
2015 Vrijdenker van Het Jaar, free thinking agent of the year, elected by the atheist-humanist society. I am their first female nominee :)


1992-now Column for the Dutch newspaper Het Parool (by now, circa 430 columns)
1992-2002 Bi-monthly column for the (by now defunct) gay and lesbian magazine XL (65 columns)
1993-1994 Column for De Helling, the tri-monthly theoretical magazine for the political party GroenLinks
1998-2000 Regular contributor to the weekly magazine de Groene Amsterdammer (34 articles)
2001-2005 Regular contributor to the net zine Netkwesties (14 articles)
2006-2008 Monthly column in Medisch Contact, a magazine for medical professionals (33 columns)
2007-2010 Column in Lover, a journal for feminist studies

Key notes & lectures:

1994, Apr Annual Opzij-lezing (Opzij is the prime Dutch feminist magazine), about disabilities and independence
1995, Aug Opening lecture for a medical convention on the internet
1995, Nov Key note for Doors of Perception; on the social, political and narrative structures within the newly developing internet culture
1995, Dec Bob Angelo lecture (annual lecture for the Dutch COC, the Society for the integration of homosexuality
1996, Sep Ars Electronica (Linz); on the body electric and electronic
1997, Mar Annie Romein-Verschoor lecture (an annual feminist lecture), on feminism, nature vs culture, gender vs sex, and transsexuality
1997, Oct Key note for the European Nursing Conference, about chronical illness
2000, Sep Opening lecture for the Film Festival Antwerp, Screening Violence, aka Grimm 2.0; on film and violence
2002, Oct Lecture for the “Biotehnologija, filozofija in spol” (“Biotechnology, philosophy and sex”) conference in Ljubljana; on cyborgs, nature and sex
2002, Nov Lecture for HGZO on medicine and technology, focusing on electronic patient records
2003, Jul Lecture on spam, Megabit festival
2004, Jun Presentation for the OSCE/FOM on the pitfalls of self- or co-regulation, at the OSCE conference on Racism, anti-semitism and xenophobia on the internet; Paris
2004, Jul Presentation for the OSCE delegates on hate speech and the internet; OSCE seminar on Guaranteeing Media Freedom on the internet; Vienna
2004, Oct Key note for the World Press Photo Exhibition on the internet and freedom of speech, Toronto
2005, Jan Lecture for the Association of Copyright about the Scientology vs XS4all & Spaink case, which is was then being assessed by the Dutch Supreme Court.
2006, Mar Aletta Jacobs Lecture (a prominent annual feminist lecture), on public personal stories and their political impact
2007, Sep Key note for the annual bisexual conference, denouncing that ‘bi’ is just another box
2008, Apr Co-lecture for the annual Globalization Lectures in Amsterdam, bashing Andrew Keene about web 2.0
2008, Nov Opening lecture for FiFi, a technology conference in Amsterdam, on hacking and the development of the public internet in the Netherlands
2010, Nov Key note for MoVisie, a conference on diversity and public images of health and disabilities
2012, Jan Opening lecture for BobCatss, annual global technology meeting, on privacy and medical hacks
2014, Dec Lecture for Logan/CIJ London, International Conference on Investigative Journalism, Surveillance and Whistleblowers, on ‘controlled’ hacking as a method to give exposure to your more theoretical investigative findings

Books published

1982 Pornografie, bekijk ‘t maar (essays); collection of essays about pornography
1986 De Venus van Milo in de betonmolen; essay on sexuality and eroticsm
1991 Aan hartstocht geen gebrek. Handicap, erotiek en lichaamsbeleving; on sex, body perception and disabilities (with photos by Gon Buurman)
1992 Het strafbare lichaam. De orenmaffia, kwakdenken en het placebo-effect; on new-age quack-thinking and more realistic neuro-immunology)
1993 Stokken en stenen. Verhalen; collection of short stories
1993 Vallende vrouw. Autobiografie van een lichaam; autobiography of a body; the micro- and macrolevels of illness, health, society
1994 Introduction to Donna Haraway’s «A cyborg manifesto»; about science fiction;, medical science, gender and artificial intelligence
1996 Waarom wil iemand de Mona Lisa in het Louvre zien?; booklet on the internet and the unhampered quest for a physical presence
1996 M/V: doorhalen wat niet van toepassing is; essays about gender, transsexuality, sexuality, sexual violence, the internet, kiddy porn, censorship and other preconceived ideas
1998 De man met de hamer; theatre play about ‘accepted taste’ and culture; for the closing night of the Holland Festival, performed by Theatergroep Hollandia, June 1998
2001 De dood in doordrukstrip; essays about death, euthanasia, suicide, methods and means
2005 Medische geheimen; about the risks of electronic patient records and the endangered medical secret
2007 “Open en bloot: borstkanker zonder opsmuk”, pamphlet about the various social, medical and gender issues regarding breast cancer
2008 “Het borstkankerlegioen”; collection of articles and columns about breast cancer and its treatments
2012 “De benenwagen”; discovering the history of the Dutch Canta, a car especially designed for the disabled

Anthologies, prefaces & introductions

1993 “Grimmige vertellingen”, in “Zoeter dan honing”; a collection of revenge stories
1994 “Grafherrie en seriemoordenaars”, in “De duivel in vermomming”; a collection of essays on music
1996 “Op eigen wielen”, in “Trots en treurnis”; a collection of essays about disabilities
1997 “Miss Onweer”, in “Venus in vlam”; a collection of lesbian love stories
1997 “Papier maché”, in “Zinnen-Beelden / Cast Images”; essay for an art book about the human body
1997 “Artsen en patiënten”, in “Multiple sclerose”; essay for a scientific book on multiple sclerosis
1999 “Bij het ontwaken”, in “De vergulde pil”; a collection of hospital fiction
1999 “De woorden ontraadseld”, in “Het wereldraadsel”; short stories on metaphysical matters and mindsets
2000 “Miss Onweer”, in “Echte vrouwen beminnen anders”; love stories by women
2000 “Grimmige vertellingen” in “Samen op weg”; contribution to a book on behalf of the Nierstichting
2001 “Was het te snel?” in “Zin, niet-correcte erotische verhalen door vrouwen”; steamy and horny sex stories by female writers
2002 “Freedom of the Internet, Our New Challeng”, in “The OSCE Yearbook on Freedom of the Media; Assessment of the current situation with regard to the internet, from the point of view of freedom of the media,” the 2001/2002 Yearbook of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe
2002 “Kiborgi: onkraj dihotomij” (“Cyborgs: beyond dichotomies”), in “Biotehnologija, filozofija in spol” (“Biotechnology, philosopy and sex”); book for the Ljubjana conference by the same title.
2003 “From quill to cursor: Freedom of the media in the digital era”, in From quill to cursor, OSCE/FOM conference book.
2003, OSCE (with Felipe Rodriquez) “Rights and regulations”, in “Spreading the word on the internet; 18 answers to 4 questions”, OSCE/FOM
2004 “Het recht niet te weten”, introduction to “Factor XX”, a book about biotechnology and gender.
2006 “Spel en spektakel”, in Een wereld te winnen; about gaming as an upcoming professional sport and spectator sport.
more to come (not everything is listed yet)

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