Looking Back On 2015: the Tadaa! List

As every year it is time to post the list of things that gave me a feeling of accomplishment, that made me go ‘tadaa!’. I am always very much forward focussed, which leads me to easily overlook the things I did, or how those things form a bigger whole. As a reminder I post this yearly list, triggered by my friend Ernst in 2010 (read the 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 editions)

To be clear, 2015 was not a good year. We lost our first pregnancy and both my parents died. That is a lot to cope with, and it was what took most energy and attention. Nevertheless, plenty other things happened as well. These were the things (mostly professionally oriented) that stood out positively for me this year, in no particular order:

  • I spent time with both my parents, taking care of them and being with them in their final days, and with my sisters hopefully did right by them both.
  • Elmine and I spent a great month together in Lucca after a spring that started out hopeful and then saw those hopes dashed. It is wondrous how just being together heals us both, always. (week 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Lucca Firenze
    In Lucca and Firenze

  • Took time for events and projects, just because it was something I wanted to do for myself out of curiosity. Gave myself the luxury of just attending some events, without speaking or actively contributing there. (Went to BorderSessions, OKNRW, ThingsCon and joined the Things Network)
  • Worked with great people in Serbia in June and December on bringing open data forward.
  • Joined the Big Data Advisory Panel of the government of Malaysia, which likely will turn into renewed visits in 2016.
  • Treated Elmine to a fun weekend together in Rotterdam to celebrate her birthday, and gave her a painting as present.
  • Gradisca Düsseldorf
    Hanging out with friends in Gradisca (I) and Düsseldorf (D)

  • Had friends be there for me (thank you!), got to be there for friends
  • Returned twice to Kyrgyzstan to follow-up and present my work of last year, including visiting the beautiful lake Issyk-Kul beneath the towering mountains for a hackathon.
  • Issyk-Kul Driving from Issyk-Kul to Bishkek

  • Worked in Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Finland, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia and Serbia this year, allowing me to experience a wide variety of people and perspectives to inspire and inform my work.
  • Found much better words to express what unifies my work and activities. Agency of individuals in the contexts of their communities is the summary. Hopefully much more on that in 2016.
  • Started self-reflection through collecting my own daily stories for pattern detection, dubbed self-pni.
  • Started working with Andre Golliez on shaping a national data infrastructure in Switzerland, moving from presenting at the Swiss national open data conference to funded research now.
  • Finished a great year-long and unique open data project with 10 local governments with a high-energy event together with my colleague Frank. It may be used as a template in the near future for other local governments in Europe.
  • Designed and implemented a new training program with my colleague Frank called ‘the data trip’ that lets civil servants use open data in their everyday work. (description in Dutch). Hopefully something we can repeat next year in other places.
  • PNH eind event maart 2014 PNH eind event maart 2014
    Frank and I doing our open data ‘dance’ (at the March ‘PNH Slimmer’ final event)

    PNH eind event maart 2014 Utrecht Data Trip oktober 2014
    Working with civil servants in North-Holland (in a year long program) and in Utrecht (for the Data Trip)

  • Hired a financial life planner to bring financial planning into the everyday toolbox for us, and align it with my other strategic choices and tools.
  • Read and summarized some 40 reports on the economic potential of open data to translate them to the Flemish and Belgian context. Boosting my own understanding of this space as well as providing the client with input for rigorous discussion and decision making.
  • Knowing there is enough to do lined up for 2016 already.

In 2015 I spent 88 days outside the country in 10 countries, though luckily just over half of that was together with Elmine. It is also less travel than previous years, or at least travel that was more efficiently planned. I worked 1941 hours, which is around 49 weeks full time equivalent. Given the month away in the summer, and the number of weeks I did not work after the summer due to family circumstances, it still means I have not succeeded in bringing my work load down to more healthy levels. This is the main challenge for 2016, and I’m looking to address it by hiring others more often so I get to focus on the tasks that suit me best.

I’m glad this year is over, although I don’t attach much symbolical value to arbitrary boundaries and counting systems like calendar years. In the coming days around New Year we’ll be spending time with dear friends in Switzerland. I’m looking forward to the next year. It is already shaping up to be a much more constructive year both personally and professionally. Here we go!

Rigi
Celebrating the new year from a Swiss lake shore