Nancy writes about the importance of endings, a rich source for reflection and of insights. And suggests it as something we should be more literate in, more deliberate in as a practice.

Yes, endings, acknowledging them, shaping them, is important.
When the BlogWalk series already had practically ended, with the last session being 18 months or so in the past, it was only when I posted about formally ending it, that it was truly done. It allowed those who participated to share stories about what it had meant to them, to say thanks, and it was a release for the organisers as well.

In our short e-book about unconferencing your birthday party (in itself a gift we sent to the participants of the most recent event it described, a year afterwards) we made a point to write about a proper ending. We had been at many events where the end was just when people left, but also at those where the end was a celebration of what we did together. We wrote "So often we were at a conference where the organizers didn’t know how to create a proper end to it. Either they’re too shy to take credit for what they’ve pulled off or they assume that most people left already and the end of the program is the last speaker to be on stage. Closure is important. It doesn’t have to be long, it doesn’t have to be a closing keynote, but it should serve as a focal point for everyone to end the day and give them an opportunity to thank you and each other as a group, not just as individuals. We gathered everyone after the last session and made some closing remarks, the most important of which was ‘thank you!’. […] Obviously this was the time to open up a few bottles as well."

In an Open Space style setting as a moderator I find releasing the space at the end for me usually involves strong emotions, coming down to earth from creating and surfing the group’s collective energy and shared attention, from weaving the tapestry of the experience together. When E and I helped P create such a space in 2019 I wrote afterwards "When Peter thanked Elmine and they embraced, that was the moment I felt myself release the space I had opened up on Day 1 when I helped the group" settle into the event and "set the schedule. Where the soap bubble we blew collapsed again, no longer able to hold the surface tension. I felt a wave of emotions wash through me, which I recognise from our own events as well. The realisation of the beauty of the collective experience you created, the connections made, the vulnerability allowed, the fun had, the playfulness. We wound down from that rush chatting over drinks in the moon lit back yard."

Endings such as those Nancy describes and the examples I mention, need their own space. It’s not a side effect of stopping doing something, but an act in itself that deserves consideration. As Nancy suggests, a practice.

Bookmarked Research Rabbit

Research Rabbit is a tool that, when provided with some academic paper you already are familiar with, can suggest other related material as well as provide that material. By looking for material from the same authors, by following the references, and by looking at the topics. This can speed up the discovery phase quite a lot I think. (And potentially also further increases the amount of stuff you haven’t looked at but which sounds relevant, thus feeding the collector’s fallacy.).

I’ve created an account. It can connect to Zotero where you already have your library of papers you are interested in (if you use Zotero with an account. I use Zotero standalone at the moment I added a Zotero account and storage subscription to sync with Research Rabbit).

Looks very useful. HT to Chris Aldrich for in Hypothesis pointing to a blogpost by Dan Alloso which mentioned Research Rabbit.

I’ve started to write a Micropub client. Not a generic one (there are a range of them out there), but one for my personal use case(s) and specific set-up. For instance so that I can prepare a short blogpost within my everyday note taking system, and then post it to my website here.

I’m doing this because I found that my personal use cases don’t fit well with the clients that are out there. I want something that is local first. Something that stays within my workflow, does not require me to switch context or tools (not having to go to my WordPress back-end or a separate app to post e.g.). Positioning blogging as something that isn’t a separate task, where posts get prepared as a regular by-product of my other tasks, just needing me to finish them and hit post.
A personal software tool in short.

The upside compared to more generic existing Micropub clients is, that I know my own specific use cases and set-up. A personal tool does not have to cater for every option of eventuality, just needs to cater to something very specific. That should make it easier to build as a ‘narrow band’ tool, not requiring many ‘what ifs’ to be covered. This because, as I wrote in the linked blogpost, in narrow band tools, my context and preferences are the default inputs, and my tasks are predictable, allowing them to be put together into the equivalent of a function that you pass a few parameters. The result basically is code.

I’m writing it from scratch and now am trying my hand at writing the most minimalistic script that can take some content and post it to my blog, focusing on sending something from my php script to my website through its Micropub endpoint.Using the helpful suggestions of Jan Boddez on where and how to start, reading up on Jamie Tanna’s experience doing the same, and using his tool to manually generate the right authorisation tokens for Micropub (found here).

I’ve hit my first snag to solve, which is that my calls to the Micropub endpoint fail because there’s an issue with the HTTPS encryption (certificate verify failed). Procrastinating on solving that, I’ve written this post, and opened a page here to track progress.

I find that I feel writing a non-fiction subject oriented book is nonsense for non-academics. I feel a strong aversion to the idea of writing a non-fiction book, as people have suggested to me occasionly since university.

Different elements are part of that aversion:

  • There’s a plethora of non-fiction books that to me seem 300 to 400 pages of anecdotal padding around a core idea that would fit on the backflap. Many such books lack tables of content and indexes, seemingly to better hide that one or few core ideas, so you need to go through all pages to find them.
  • The motivation for non-fiction writers to write a book I often find suspect. Aimed at marketing and PR, in support of selling themselves as consultant for instance. Written not to serve an audience, or even find one, but as a branding prop. That makes the actual content often even thinner. Such as taking something anecdotal like “I had this great project I enormously enjoyed doing” and anointing it as the new truth, “Organise all your projects like this, it’s a universal method!”
  • I equally find my own favourite topics suspect as material for writing a book. I don’t think any of the topics I work on, and have been working on, are deep enough or have enough solid foundation to stand on their own as a book. It could only become a range of anecdotes around ideas that themselves fit in a sentence or two. In my activities context and environment are key in working out how an idea can be made to work for a client, and that’s the work. That’s a good source of anecdotes, but not more. See the first bullet. A book about it would be a collection of opinions, and in my eyes would take a rather large amount of work to give those ideas a more solid footing.

In a conversation with E about this a few months ago, she said that’s a very arrogant stance towards authors (they have nothing to say), as well as belittling myself (I have nothing to say). I think those are both the same things, that most people, including me, don’t have enough to say to fill a book, to spend tens of thousands of words on. Many have enough to say on enough moments to at that time fill a great blogpost, article, a pamphlet (like the one about birthday unconferences shown in the right hand column), or an essay. But not a book, an artefact that seems such a heavyweight creation and production process in comparison. There are those who write a book by collating material that was previously written as blogposts, or as internal notes, and then somewhat rearranged. I see that as case in point more than counter argument.

As stated at the top, I make exceptions for academic books, explaining or introducing a field or actual research and their popular science counterparts, and for non-subject non-fiction, that e.g. describes a journey (geographically, or through life for instance, ‘true stories’, the history of a topic and how we ended up in the current situation, that sort of thing).
I also don’t mean fiction. Fiction’s role is very different, and any story that makes you read the next sentence and the next and the next is not what I mean here.
In that sense I very much appreciate the work of Cory Doctorow, who writes articles, essays, columns and blogposts about the topics he cares about, and writes fiction books to explore those same topics along different and novel routes.

Yet, our house holds many non-fiction books. A stack of books that keeps ever growing. So, why is that? Is it that there is more value in the whole, the collection of books read, and those unread, as opposed to the lack of value I perceive in any singular book in itself? Or maybe I don’t understand what writing a non-fiction book is, and what it is for. There are people reading my blog who have written non-fiction books. What were your motivations and aims? Why a book?

Having created a working flow to generate OPML booklists directly from the individual book notes in my PKM system, I did the first actual run in production of those scripts today.

It took a few steps to get to using the scripts in production.

  • I have over 300 book note files in my Obsidian vault.
  • Of course most lacked the templated inline data fields that allow me to create lists. For the 67 fiction books I read in 2021 I already had a manual list with links to the individual files. Where needed I added the templated data fields.
  • Having added those inline fields where they were missing I can easily build lists in Obsidian with the Dataview plugin. Using this code


    results in

  • The same inline data fields are used by my scripts to read the individual files and build the same list in OPML
  • That gets automatically posted to my website where the file is both machine and human readable.

Doing this in production made me discover a small typo in the script that builds the OPML, now fixed (also in the GitHub repository). It also made me realise I want to add a way of ordering the OPML outline entries by month read.

Lists to take into production next are those for currently reading (done), non-fiction 2021, and the anti-library. That last one will be the most work, I have a very long list of books to potentially read. I will approach that not as a task of building the list, but as an ongoing effort of evaluating books I have and why they are potentially of interest to me. A way, in short, to extend my learning, with the list as a useful side effect. The one for currently reading is the least work, and from it the lists for fiction 2022 and non-fiction 2022 will automatically follow. The work is in the backlog, getting history to conform to the convention I came up with, not in moving forward from this point.

In parallel it is great to see that Tom Critchlow is also looking at creating such book lists, in JSON, and at digesting such lists from others. The latter would implement the ‘federated’ part of federated bookshelves. Right now I just point to other people’s list and rss feeds in my ‘list of lists‘. To me getting to federation doesn’t require a ‘standard’. Because JSON, OPML and e.g. schema.org have enough specificity and overlap between them to allow both publishers of lists and parsers or such lists enough freedom to use or discard data fields as they see fit. But there is definitely a discussion to be had on identifying that overlap and how to use it best. Chris Aldrich is planning an IndieWeb event on this and other personal libraries related topics next month. I look forward to participating in that, quite a number of interesting people have expressed interest, and I hope we’ll get to not just talk but also experiment with book lists.

In juni 2019 nam de Europese Unie een nieuwe Open Data Richtlijn aan. Deze moest vervolgens binnen 2 jaren in alle Lidstaten in nationale wetgeving worden omgezet. Dat is in veel landen niet op tijd gebeurd, waaronder in Nederland. Ondermeer door de pandemie ging de aandacht naar andere dingen. Het Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken heeft de draad een tijdje geleden weer opgepakt, en dat resulteert in een Kerstcadeautje: de internetconsultatie voor de nieuwe Wet Hergebruik Overheidsinformatie is op 24 december geopend. Tot 6 februari kan iedereen zijn inzichten delen over de ontwerptekst.

De nieuwe Open Data Richtlijn breidt de scope van organisaties die onder de Richtlijn uit, voegt dynamische data nadrukkelijk toe (vroeger kwamen overheden er mee weg om real time meetgegevens niet te delen omdat op het moment van aanvragen die gegevens nog niet bestonden, alleen een jurist met ‘nee’ als uitgangspunt verzint zoiets) en voegt een lijst verplichte open data publicaties toe (die regels moeten nog in een aparte wet gepubliceerd worden, de Europese Commissie heeft dat nog niet gedaan, al zou dat al een jaar geleden rond zijn).
Verder worden weer stappen gezet in het verder beperken van exclusieve overeenkomsten en het vragen van geld voor gegevensverstrekking, zoals vorige edities van deze Richtlijn ook telkens deden.

Ik ga dit kerstcadeau nog niet openmaken, maar neem in januari uitgebreid de tijd om de tekst te lezen en zonodig van opmerkingen te voorzien.

(Full disclosure: ik werkte in 2017/2018 mee aan de evaluatie en impact assessment van de vorige Hergebruiksrichtlijn. De resultaten daarvan hebben mede de inhoud van de nieuwe Open Data Richtlijn in 2019 bepaald.)