Some of the things I found worth reading in the past few days:

  • Although this article seems to confuse regulatory separation with technological separation, it does give a try in formulating the geopolitical aspects of internet and data: There May Soon Be Three Internets. America’s Won’t Necessarily Be the Best
  • Interesting, yet basically boils down to actively exercising your ‘free will’. It assumes a blank slate for the hacking, where I haven’t deliberately set out for information/contacts on certain topics. And then it suggests doing precisely that as remedy. The key quote for me here is “Humans are hacked through pre-existing fears, hatreds, biases and cravings. Hackers cannot create fear or hatred out of nothing. But when they discover what people already fear and hate it is easy to push the relevant emotional buttons and provoke even greater fury. If people cannot get to know themselves by their own efforts, perhaps the same technology the hackers use can be turned around and serve to protect us. Just as your computer has an antivirus program that screens for malware, maybe we need an antivirus for the brain. Your AI sidekick will learn by experience that you have a particular weakness – whether for funny cat videos or for infuriating Trump stories – and would block them on your behalf.“: Yuval Noah Harari on the myth of freedom
  • This is an important issue, always. I recognise it from my work for the World Bank and UN agencies. Is what you’re doing actually helping, or is it shoring up authorities that don’t match with your values? And are you able to recognise it and withdraw when you cross the line from the former to the latter? I’ve known entrepreneurs who kept a client blacklist of sectors, governments and companies, but often it isn’t that clear cut. I’ve avoided engagements in various countries over the years, but every client engagement can be rationalised: How McKinsey Has Helped Raise the Stature of Authoritarian Governments, and when the consequences come back to bite, Malaysia files charges against Goldman-Sachs
  • This seems like a useful list to check for next books to read. I’ve definitely enjoyed reading the work of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Nnedi Okorafor last year: My year of reading African women, by Gary Younge

Recently I have been named the new chairman of the board of the Open State Foundation. This is a new role I am tremendously looking forward to take up. The Open State Foundation is the leading Dutch NGO concerning government transparency, and over the past years they’ve both persistently and in a very principled way pursued open data and government transparency, as well as constructively worked with government bodies to help them do better. Stef van Grieken, the chairman stepping down, has led the Open State Foundation board since it came into existence. The Open State Foundation is the merger of two earlier NGO’s, The New Voting (Het Nieuwe Stemmen) foundation of which Stef was the founder, and the Hack the Government (Hack de Overheid) collective.

Hack de Overheid emerged from the very first Dutch open government barcamp James Burke, Peter Robinett and I organised in the spring of 2008. The second edition in 2009 was the first Hack de Overheid event. My first open data project that same spring was together with James Burke and Alper Çuğun, both part of Hack de Overheid then and providing the tech savvy, and me being the interlocutor with the Ministry for the Interior, to guide the process and interpret the civil servant speak to the tech guys and vice versa. At the time Elsevier (a conservative weekly) published an article naming me one of the founders of Hack de Overheid, which was true in spirit, if technically incorrect.

In the past year and a half I had more direct involvement with the Open State Foundation than in the years between. Last year I did an in-depth evaluation of the effectiveness and lasting impact of the Open State Foundation in the period 2013-2017 and facilitated a discussion about their future, at the request of their director and one of their major funders. That made me appreciate their work in much richer detail than before. My company The Green Land and Open State Foundation also encounter each other on various client projects, giving me a perspective on the quality of their work and their team.

When Stef, as he’s been working in the USA for the past years, indicated he thought it time to leave the board, it coincided with me having signalled to the Open State Foundation that, if there ever was a need, I’d be happy to volunteer for the board. That moment thus came sooner than I expected. A few weeks ago Stef and I met up to discuss it, and then the most recent board meeting made it official.

Day to day the Open State Foundation is run by a very capable team and director. The board is an all volunteer ‘hands-off’ board, that helps the Open State Foundation guard its mission and maintain its status as a recognised charity in the Netherlands. I’m happy that I can help the Open State Foundation to stay committed to their goals of increasing government transparency and as a consequence the agency of citizens. I’m grateful to Stef, and the others that in the past decade have helped Open State Foundation become what it is now, from its humble beginnings at that barcamp in the run-down pseudo-squat of the former Volkskrant offices, now the hipster Volkshotel. I’m also thankful that I now have the renewed opportunity to meaningfully contribute to something I in a tiny way helped start a decade ago.

Next week is the final working week of the year, and it feels like a final dash on the last length.

The past days I

  • Worked on a data governance improvement project
  • Prepared two presentations for next week
  • Worked on a transparency measurement framework
  • Had a meeting on e-participation
  • Formally joined the board of an NGO, more in the coming days
  • Thought about finding useful automation opportunities in my work routines
Liked Company of One – Why staying small is the next big thing in business. by Frank Meeuwsen
"The real key to richer and more fulfilling work could be to not create and scale something into a massive corporation, but rather, to work for yourself, determine your own hours, and become a (highly profitable) and sustainable company of one."

Pre-ordered for next month. This is something that I’ve been engaging with for 10 years. At one hand I’d like colleagues/staff to speed things up, but it also always increases your needs. Having employees is a relentless responsibility. Networked working prevents those additional needs, but usually also has less effect in increasing speed and versatility, as the connections create more overhead than in the case of employees. I’ve seen peers find themselves with dozens of staff, and no longer doing the stuff they love. I’ve seen individuals struggle to keep moving for lack of impulses that a ‘normal’ company would provide. Now, the blurb and preface of this book reads as someone able to ditch a lot of hassle because of privilege, and trying to turn an individual experience into a theory and ascribe outcomes to one’s own individual ability to act. (And then there’s the awful, red flag like, up-sell to ‘take my course’ after you order the book) Whereas context and your starting position matter a lot. Not all of us can afford a move to beautiful Vancouver Island. But the trajectory is very familiar. My friend Robert Paterson left the banking world for PEI and working from home, and found that it greatly also reduced the cost of living as many expected behaviours or symbols of status in a city and in the banking world no longer applied to him. Reducing the level that is ‘enough’ to somewhere much more manageable. There are many more like that in my peer network as well. So I am at least curious.

Replied to Checking in on my social media fast by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller
Three weeks ago, I decided to go dark on social media. ... It's one of the best things I've ever done. I thought I'd check in with a quick breakdown: what worked, and what didn't. Here we go.   Wh...

I recognise what Ben Werdmüller says. About the withdrawal creating space to both read more long form, and to write more myself. Also the replacement dopamine cravings, by looking up your blog’s statistics when the Facebook likes fall away, I had. Indeed as Ben suggests, I also removed the statistics from my website (by disabling JetPack, I never used Google Analytics anyway). Different from him, I never stopped using Twitter or LinkedIn, just cut back Facebook which I felt was the real time sink (also as Twitter nor LinkedIn were on my phone to begin with, and because I use Twitter very differently from how I used Facebook.) Going completely ‘dark’ on social media is also about privilege I feel, so the crux is how conscious are we of our information strategies? How the tools we use support those information strategies or not, and most importantly in the case of social media as a time sink: in how much it’s the tools that shape our info diet, instead of the other way around.

Elmine deed onlangs iemand een Rijkswachter cadeau en voegde daar bovenstaand gedicht bij.

De Rijkswachters zijn houten robotjes gemaakt van de kisten waarin, tijdens de tien jaar durende verbouwing van het Rijksmuseum, de collectie opgeslagen was. Tijdens de verbouwing (2003-2013) was het museum gesloten. Al die tijd zat de collectie in houten kiste. Elk robotje heeft een nummer achterop, waarmee te achterhalen is welk object er in het het hout zat opgeborgen. Dit najaar vonden we een Rijkswachter (met nummer 7496) in een winkel in Leeuwarden. Die figureert nu in de video. In zijn vorig leven als kist, was er een zilveren kraantjeskan in verpakt.

Elmine maakt in de aanloop naar de Feestdagen elke dag een korte video. Over Rijkswachters, storycubes, sluwe katten, 19e eeuwse treinverliefdheid, en filosofische bespiegelingen van een mier en meer. Volg haar op Youtube voor jouw video-adventskalender.

Some news to put our earthly issues and political navel gazing in a wider perspective. A much wider perspective: NASA has announced this week that recently Voyager 2 has left the Heliosphere, and is now in interstellar space.

It’s the second human made object that has reached this far outside our home. Launched in 1977 Voyager finished its primary mission in 1989. In its 42nd year of duty, it will now start measuring interstellar space as long as the connection isn’t lost.

Voyager 1, launched 2 weeks after Voyager 2 in 1977, was first to leave the heliosphere in 2012. It is still sending back data, and even accepted a remote controlled course correction last year.

Below is the graph NASA published that shows the moment of leaving the protective bubble around our solar system.

I was 7 years old when it was launched, it has been flying through space for most of my life. Currently at a distance of 119 AU, 119 times the distance between Earth and the Sun, or 119 times 150 or 17.850 million kilometers, it’s an awe inspiring journey.

25 years ago, 10 December 1993, a major time sink for me at university was released: Doom. It replaced Wolfenstein 3D, which had proven a very effective time sink in the year before it. I don’t think Doom’s teleportation experiments swallowed Deimos, they swallowed Chronos, time itself. I have a creeping suspicion my muscle memory would still guide me through the levels even after 25 years.

[Update, a quick test on a flash based online version of Doom confirms the suspicion, but let’s not dive into that particular rabbit hole……….did I say rabbit?

]
(images screenshots from the game, artwork (c) Id Software)

Replied to Some quick quotes on #edu106 and the power of #IndieWeb #creativity #edtechchat #mb by Greg McVerryGreg McVerry
....fun to figure out everything I wanted to do with my website,....gained a sense of voice...,...I’m so tired of all the endless perfection I see on social media......my relationship with technology changed....

After my initial posting on this yesterday, Greg shares a few more quotes from his students. It reminds me of the things both teachers and students said at the end of my 2008 project at Rotterdam university for applied sciences. There, a group of teachers explored how to use digital technology, blogs and the myriad of social web tools, to both support their own learning and change their teaching. The sentiments expressed are similar, if you look at the quotes in the last two sections (change yourself, change your students) of my 2009 posting about it. What jumps out most for me, is the sense of agency, the power that comes from discovering that agency.

With WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg now launched, I think I will wait until the dust settles a little bit. I’m not encouraged by Matt’s State of the Word talk, in which he said ‘get deeper into Javascript’. I’d rather not actually. Most of the few plugins I use haven’t been updated to WP5 yet, and some of its authors write how Gutenberg breaks them. Also there’s still some bugs being ironed out. For now I’ll stick with WP4, until I see more confident reviews. Currently, searches for WP alternatives, calling WP’s new course Dreamweaver, quirks, and bugs, do not inspire that confidence. And already earlier this year there was the discussion of the total lack of accessibility efforts.

As a long time netizen it is easy to forget that for many now online their complete experience of the internet is within the web silos. I frequent silos, but I’ve always kept a place well outside of it for over two decades. When you’ve never ‘played outside’, building your own space beyond the silos can be an eye-opener. Greg McVerry pointed to the blog of one of his students, who described the experience of stepping outside the silos (emphasis mine):

The fact that I now have a place where I can do that, where I can publish my thoughts whenever I want in a place open for people to read and to not be afraid of doing so, is liberating. I’ve always wanted a space online to call my own. I’m so tired of all the endless perfection I see on social media. My space, “Life Chapter by Chapter” is real. It’s me, personified by a website. And though this post is not digitally enhanced in any way, I love it because it’s representative of the bottom line of what I’ve learned in EDU 106. I’m my own person on this site, I’m not defined by Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. I can post what I want, when I want, how I want. It’s a beautiful thing.

That’s a beautiful thing, indeed. Maybe this is the bit that Frank Meeuwsen and I need to take as the key to the story when writing a book, as Elja challenged us today (in Dutch).

Alnwick Garden - Walled Garden
There’s a world outside the walled garden. (Photo by Gail Johnson, CC-BY-NC)

Ik volg met interesse het blog van Elja Daae, die in 3 weken tijd een concept voor haar boek af wil schrijven. Omdat de uitgever het dan verwacht. Elke dag schrijft ze over haar voortgang en afwegingen. Inmiddels zijn we een week onderweg, met een eerste posting over het niet bestaan van Writers block, en de laatste over schrijven is schrappen in Refocus.

Mijn interesse zit hem vooral in hoe je dat nou aanpakt, tot een boek concept komen. En eigenlijk ben ik ook wel nieuwsgierig naar hoe ze dan straks van een concept naar een boek komt. Is dan niet immers alles al gezegd? Waarom meer woorden er tegenaan gooien als je de boodschap al op papier hebt? Dat is ook meteen waarom ik haar proces volg. Het verschil tussen schrijvers en lezers lijkt vooral te zijn dat iedereen stiekem wel een boek wil schrijven, maar dat schrijvers het uiteindelijk ook doen. Mij wordt ook wel regelmatig de suggestie aan de hand gedaan, “schrijf daar nou eens een boek over!“. En ik heb bij vlagen ook wel die wensgedachte. Maar doen is iets anders. Veel van de boeken die me als voorbeeld worden voorgehouden komen op me over als veel wol om de ruimte tussen de kaften te vullen. Nog maar weer vijf anecdotes en voorbeelden om het punt nogmaals te maken. Waar een handjevol blogposts, of zelfs een rijtje bullet points, waarschijnlijk ook had volstaan.

Elja komt in ieder geval tot actie, en ze laat iedereen meekijken. Frank Meeuwsen schreef ooit ook een boek, Bloghelden, over de vroege Nederlandstalige blog-wereld. Zou hij het proces van Elja herkennen? Frank en ik hadden het laatst over een boek over het IndieWeb, om het vrije en open web uit te leggen aan nieuw publiek. Materiaal genoeg op zich. Maar ook nog veel te onderzoeken. Schrijft Elja alleen uit ervaring, of doet ze ook extra onderzoek tijdens het maken van haar boek?

(Ik ontmoette Elja aan de keukentafel van Ewout, voor een goed gesprek over de toekomst van het internet. Frank was daar ook bij. Hij en ik kennen elkaar uit de Nederlandse blog-oertijd. Zowel Elja (blogpost) als Frank (blogpost) waren aanwezig op onze STM18 unconference op Elmine’s verjaardag.)