It’s the end of December, and we’re about to enjoy the company of dear friends to bring in the new year, as is our usual tradition. This means it is time for my annual year in review posting, the ‘Tadaa!’ list.

Nine years ago I started writing end-of-year blogposts listing the things that happened that year that gave me a feeling of accomplishment, that make me say ‘Tadaa!’, so this is the tenth edition (See the 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010 editions). I am usually moving forwards to the next thing as soon as something is finished, and that often means I forget to celebrate or even acknowledge things during the year. Sometimes I forget things completely (a few years ago I completely forgot I organised a national level conference at the end of a project). My sense of awareness has improved in the past few years, especially since I posted week notes for the past 18 months. Still it remains a good way to reflect on the past 12 months and list the things that gave me a sense of accomplishment. So, here’s this year’s Tadaa!-list:

  • Visiting Open Knowledge Belgium to present the open data impact measurement framework I developed as part of an assignment for the UNDP in 2018. The way I accommodate in it for different levels of maturity on both the provision and demand side of open data and look at both lead and lag indicators, allows the entire framework to be a sensor: you should see the impact of actions propagate through indicators on subsequent levels. This allows you to look backwards and forwards with the framework, providing a sense of direction and speed as well as of current status. I’m currently deploying those notions with a client organisation for more balanced and ethical measurement and data collection.
  • When my project portfolio stabilised on a few bigger things, not a range of smaller things, I felt restless at first (there should be more chaos around me!), but I slowly recognised it as an opportunity to read, learn, and do more of the stuff on my endless backlog
  • Those few bigger things allow me to more deeply understand client organisations I do them in, and see more of my work and input evolve into results within an organisation. The clients involved seem to be very happy with the results so far, and I actually heard and accepted their positive feedback. Normally I’d dismiss such compliments.
  • Found a more stable footing for my company and in working/balancing with the other partners. We now are in a much better place than last year. Organisationally, as a team, and financially
  • We opened up offices in Utrecht for my company, meaning we now have space available to host people and events. We used some of that new opportunity, organising a few meet-ups, an unconference and hosting the Open Nederland general assembly meeting, but it is something I’d like to do more of. Set a rhythm in making our offices a hub in our network more.

  • Got to be there for friends, and friends got to be there for me. Thank you.
  • Visited Peter, Catherine and Oliver on PEI for the Crafting {:} a Life unconference. The importance of spending time together in unhurried conversations can’t be overestimated.

  • Gave a keynote at Coder Dojo NL conference. It turned out to be a more human and less abstract version of my Networked Agency keynote at SOTN in 2018. Helping me to better phrase my own thoughts on how technology, agency and being human interplays.
  • Organised 2 IndieWebCamps with Frank Meeuwsen, basically bringing the IndieWeb to the Netherlands. I enjoyed working with Frank, after having been out of touch for a while. Meeting over dinner at Ewout’s early last year, blogging about independent web technology, Elmine’s birthday unconference and visiting an IndieWebCamp in Germany together all in 2018, reconnected us, leading to organising two successful events in both Utrecht and Amsterdam, putting two new cities on the IndieWeb map.

  • Kept up the blogging (for the 17th year), making my site(s) even more central to the way I process and share info by doing things like syndicating to Twitter and Mastodon from my site, and not treating Twitter as a place where I write original content.
  • Enjoying every day still how much more central in the country we now live, how so many more things are now within easy reach. Events I can visit in the evening in Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam or The Hague, without the need to book a hotel, because I can be back home within an hour. How it allows us to let Y experience she’s part of a wider family, because it’s now so much easier to spend time with E’s brothers and cousins and my sisters. How comfortable our house is, and how I enjoy spending time and working in our garden.
  • Celebrated the 50th birthday of a dear friend. We all go back at least 25 years, from when we were all at university, and room mates in various constellations. M said she felt privileged to have all of us around the table that night, that all of us responded to her invitation. She’s right, and all of us realised it, it is a privilege. The combination of making the effort to hang out together, and doing that consistently over many years creates value and depth and a sense of connectedness by itself. Regardless of what happened and happens to any of us, that always stands.
  • Finally attended Techfestival, for its third edition, having had to decline the invitations to the previous two. Was there to get inspired, take the pulse of the European tech scene, and as part of the Copenhagen 150 helped created the Techpledge. Participating in that process gave me a few insights into my own role and motivations in the development and use of technology.
  • Getting into an operational rhythm with the new director and me in my role as the chairman of the Open State Foundation. Working in that role opened up my mind again to notions about openness and good governance that I lost track of a bit focussing on the commercial work I do in this area with my company. It rekindles the activist side of me more again.
  • Working with my Open NL colleagues, yet another angle of open content, seen from the licensing perspective. Enjoyed giving a presentation on Creative Commons in Leeuwarden as part of the Open Access Week events organised by the local public and higher education libraries in that city.
  • Visited some conferences without having an active contribution to the program. It felt like a luxury to just dip in and out of sessions and talks on a whim.
  • Finding a bit more mental space and time to dive deeper into some topics. Such as ethics with regard to data collection and usage, information hygiene & security, AI and distributed technologies
  • Worked in Belgium, Denmark, Canada and Germany, which together amounts to the smallest amount of yearly travel I have done in this last decade. Travel is a habit Bryan said to me a few years back, and it’s true. I felt the withdrawal symptoms this year. I missed travel, I need it, and as a result especially enjoyed my trips to both Denmark and Canada. In the coming year there should be an opportunity to work in SE Asia again, and I’m on the lookout for more activities across the EU member states.
  • Presented in Germany, in German for this first time since years. Again something I’d like to do more of, although I find it difficult to create opportunities to work there. The event opened my eyes to the totally different level of digitisation in Germany. There’s a world to gain there, and there should be opportunities in contributing to that.
  • Hosted an unconference at the Saxion University of Applied Sciences in Enschede, in celebration of the 15th anniversary of the industrial design department. Its head, Karin van Beurden asked me to do this as she had experienced our birthday unconferences and thought it a great way to celebrate something in a way that is intellectually challenging and has a bite to it. This year saw a rise in unconferences I organised, facilitated or attended (7), and I find there’s an entire post-BarCamp generation completely unfamiliar with the concept. Fully intend to do more of this next year, as part of the community efforts of my company. We did one on our office roof top this year, but I really want this to become a series
  • Spent a lot of time (every Friday) with Y, and (on weekends) with the three of us. Y is at an age where her action radius is growing, and the type of activities we can undertake have more substance to them. I love how her observational skills and mind work, and the types of questions she is now asking.
  • Taking opportunities to visit exhibits when they arise. Allowing myself the 60 or so minutes to explore. Like when I visited the Chihuly exhibit in Groningen when I was in the city for an appointment and happened to walk past the museum.

This post is not about it, but I have tangible notions about what I want to do and focus on in the coming months, more than I had a year ago. Part of that is what I learned from the things above that gave me a sense of accomplishment. Part of that is the realisation E and I need to better stimulate and reinforce each others professional activities. That is a good thing too.

In 2019 I worked 1756 hours, which is about 36 hours per week worked. This is above my actual 4 day work week, and I still aim to reduce it further, but it’s stable compared to 2016-2018, which is a good thing. Especially considering it was well over 2400 in 2011 and higher before.

I read 48 books, less than one a week, but including a handful of non-fiction, and nicely evenly spread out over the year, not in bursts. I did not succeed in reading significantly more non-fiction, although I did buy quite a number of books. So there’s a significant stack waiting for me. Just as there is a range of fiction works still waiting for my attention. I don’t think I need to buy more books in the coming 4 months or 6 even, but I will have to learn to keep the bed side lamp on longer as I have a surprising number of paper books waiting for me after years of e-books only.

We’ll see off the year in the company of dear friends in the Swiss mountainside, and return early 2020. Onwards!

For the 12th year in a row I’ve send out Kiva Cards as Christmas gifts to clients. As many of the people I and our company work with are civil servants, it isn’t acceptable to give them anything of value. That’s why in the first year I worked independently I decided on a Christmas gift to business relations that doesn’t carry any risk of challenging the receiver’s integrity, nor mine as the giver.

That gift is a Kiva Card, a voucher for 25 USD. They’re perfect for my purpose. The gift can only be accepted by giving it away again. Kiva is a microcredit platform, where you can lend small amounts to entrepreneurs and others in developing countries. To use the card you have to apply it to a microcredit. Over time you get repaid and then you can lend it out again. If you do not use the card, it will become a charitable donation automatically after a year. In each case someone else will benefit, not the receiver or the giver.

My work is in open data mostly, and my interest in technology is about enabling more (networked) agency. In both those cases freely sharing is the starting point to create the potential benefits. Kiva Cards only can be used by sharing them again too, and turn into a donation if you don’t use them.

So these Kiva Cards are perfectly aligned with the spirit of my work, can’t call my or the receiver’s integrity into question, yet the joy of a gift remains.

Over time I’ve made over 300 microcredit contributions myself, forever re-using the funds I put in. I’ve especially tried to make meaningful loans in countries and regions where I’ve worked, in Central Asia, and non-EU Eastern Europe for instance, and most if not all to women.

It’s easy to join Kiva and start supporting an entrepreneur somewhere around the world

Screenshot of some of the people with Kiva microcredits I’ve contributed to

Bookmarked Linqurator

After my dive into my exported Delicious data, and looking at the service its current owner Pinboard offers, I found myself awake last night. I used the time to think about link curation, research and the social and analytical aspects of bookmarking. That against the litmus test of Networked Agency and Indieweb principles. Concluded I need to experiment with rolling my own. First sketches made, and coming up with a doable experimentation plan.

Favorited a post on Double Loop by Neil Mather

Really true – it’s important not to become closed off.  There is a wealth of ideas and values to be gathered from around the world, and that’s the beauty of the Internet, allowing us to connect to those.  The mix is important.  Politically speaking at present in the UK, with a national gove…

Neil Mather