Starting in 2010 I have posted an annual ‘Tadaa’ list, a list of things that made me feel I had accomplished something.
This is the first time in 11 years I did not feel like making this list. This second pandemic year was again a year where our lives had a small and local scope mostly, where most days just carried over into the next. Additionally as I’ve been keeping day logs since April 2020, and have been posting week notes for three years now, maybe there’s less of an internal need of looking back annually, as unlike a decade ago I’ve been doing it weekly and daily for myself as well. Mostly I think it’s the pandemic, where nothing much happens during a year of staying home almost exclusively. As E mentioned this week, you miss out on so much coincidental inspiration, ideas and associative thoughts that you’d normally get from just being out in the world.
Yet, maybe that means I really should be making the effort of writing the annual list. So here goes, in no particular order.

  • Made sure that Y got to fully enjoy playing in the snow, and skating on the ice, for the few days in February that both were possible. Important memories to make with her.
  • E and I made it work well at home, despite irregular school closures, a quarantine, and having Covid breach our household. I appreciated our house a lot, allowing us space as it does to both have our own home office, being able to sit in the garden under the apple tree or at the water’s edge watching the swans, ducks and coots. We complemented each other well, and E even completed a half year training program on data and AI on top of all of it.
  • Went away when we could, e.g. to Zeeland over the easter weekend, enjoyed some lunches in town, visited a few museums.
  • We spent two weeks in Copenhagen in the summer in a beautiful house we rented. Cycling through the city, just hanging out, meeting up with friends and having a nice place to return to or stay at and relax for a day was a great break. I am very glad that I booked the rental early in the spring, when it wasn’t at all clear that it would be even possible to travel across inner-EU borders. Just the act of having booked it was valuable as it put something on the horizon a few months out.
  • A week in Versailles and Paris at the end of summer was an unplanned but huge pleasure. We enjoyed camping out in a forest area on the edge of Versailles, while having Paris within 30 mins by train and the railway station a 10 minute walk away. We got to be outside a lot, played around with Y in the camp ground’s swimming pool, while also exploring Paris (which Y loved), taking in (a small section of) the Louvre, and having lunch and coffee any place we liked. Paris wasn’t very busy, but not empty either, the perfect setting to roam as we pleased in a city that was lively enough to feel its pulse. It was a very energising week, and the best spur of the moment decision we made this year.
  • Volunteered to speak at the FOSS4G Netherlands conference this fall, that fell in the brief period where such events could take place face to face.
  • My company had a good year, again well above the pre-pandemic 2019. Our team I think grew tighter, and we managed to have a lot of fun despite the pandemic measures taking a mental toll on all of us at times. That financially things went well helped as stabilising factor, reducing uncertainty in uncertain times. Renting cabins in a holiday park in June, so we could work together for a week while each having our own cabin, is something to do during regular years as well. Last month it was a decade ago that we started our company, and in fact I feel these past years, despite the pandemic, were the best ones as a group and for me personally had most meaning.
  • I got to work this year on a topic that I really enjoy, learning to work with and within the coming EU digital and data legal framework. The work evolved from a study I did last year, advising the European Commission on the planned open data obligations for EU countries. This important wave of 6 pieces of legislation is the biggest influence on data governance in Europe since the original PSI Directive and INSPIRE Directive 10-15 years ago. It goes much deeper and is much wider in scope than what came before though. There’s a renewed elan, and I feel the type of energy that my work 10 years ago generated around European open data efforts. This new wave will be key to any data work for at least five years, if not for the rest of the decade.
  • For next year, I’ve already signed a contract with a client to keep track of those European developments, help Dutch dataholders and users to leverage their potential, and build bridges to initiatives elsewhere in Europe. It provides me with even more time to do that, which allows me to organise it more as a program of continuous work, not like one project out of several. I hope and intend to use this opportunity to help drive the momentum from this new batch of data legislation in 2022.
  • I’ve been writing my blog here for 19 years now. Again this year it was an important instrument in having and generating conversations with a wide variety of people. In these stay at home times having a way of connecting to people all over the world is very valuable, and doing it all from my own domain is a source of agency. Thank you to all I had the opportunity to interact with this year, to all who dropped by in my inbox.
  • Last year I started making a notes system (in Obsidian) having revamped my personal KM system. Last year I made some 800 conceptual notes mostly gleaned form existing blogposts and presentations I wrote the past 20 years. That number hasn’t grown very fast this year, to a 1050 plus about 200 more factual notes. Together with an ideas collection, and book notes they make some 1650 notes, or about a third of the total number of 5000 notes in my PKM system. Other notes are work related notes, day logs and an annotated library of things that caught my eye this year. I am happy it felt effortless to keep the note making going this year, even if I feel I had too little time to actually sit down and think and write, growing the conceptual part of it all. I’ve also done little non-fiction reading, an annual complaint I have though it was more than in previous years. Such reading provides input that could let my notes grow. Having dusted off my PKM system last year has really helped me this year in keeping track of my work, and being able to keep building on little things I started earlier and then had to leave alone for a while. What pleases me no end, in terms of reducing friction and the sense of ‘magic’ that I got it to work, I now run two client websites, where I publish information for them directly from my notes collection. It allows me to work in my own notes on my own laptop, and in the background GitHub ensures that those notes get published as a website.
  • I’m what is called the ‘programming equivalent of a home cook. Making small adaptations to my laptop’s working environment, and little pieces of code to help me do some tasks is gratifying (if sometimes frustrating during the process of creation), and let’s me incrementally reduce friction in my workflows. This year I enjoyed rummaging around the back-end of my feed reader, and experimenting with what I call federated bookshelves, and a few other small things. The federated bookshelves stuff will be a topic of discussion and, I hope, making during a tentatively planned online IndieWeb meet-up in February on distributed libraries.

In terms of work hours, I mostly worked about 3 days per week in the first six months, using the rest to balance the logistics of a household in times of pandemic and find some space for myself. The rest of the year I worked more or less fulltime.
As we’ve been home mostly I had ample time to read, just over 70 books, of which a handful non-fiction. Fiction reading is something I worked into my day well in the past years (at least 30 mins before sleeping, an easy to arrange habit). The non-fiction reading is still something I want to find a working flow and rhythm for (and have been for years). It requires making time in a way that is less easy (reading, noting, thinking) than it is for fiction. On the plus side, the non-fiction I did read I also much more actively made notes on.

We will spend some days around New Year in Switzerland, visiting dear friends. A tradition we couldn’t adhere to last year, but can do this year (if we test negative before leaving).

Ever onwards! (After having the first week of January off that is)

A pink piece of cake with chocolate curl on golden paper
2021 wasn’t a piece of cake, but like the one pictured despite its imperfections and cracks still held beauty. I enjoyed this raspberry and chocolate confection towards the end of a joyful day with E and Y in Tivolo Gardens in Copenhagen last August.

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