Dries Buytaert, the originator of the Drupal CMS, is pulling the plug on Facebook. Having made the same observations I did, that reducing FB engagement leads to more blogging. A year ago he set out to reclaim his blog as a thinking-out-loud space, and now a year on quits FB.

I’ve seen this in a widening group of people in my network, and I welcome it. Very much so. At the same time though, I realise that mostly we’re returning to the open web. As we were already there for a long time before the silo’s Sirens lured us in, silos started by people who like us knew the open web. For us the open web has always been the default.

Returning to the open web is in that sense not a difficult step to make. Yes, you need to overcome the FOMO induced by the silo’s endless scrolling timeline. But after that withdrawal it is a return to the things still retained in your muscle memory. Dusting off the domain name you never let lapse anyway. Repopulating the feed reader. Finding some old blogging contacts back, and like in the golden era of blogging, triangulate from their blog roll and published feeds to new voices, and subscribe to them. It’s a familiar rhythm that never was truly forgotten. It’s comforting to return, and in some ways privilege rather than a risky break from the mainstream.

It makes me wonder how we can bring others along with us. The people for whom it’s not a return, but striking out into the wilderness outside the walled garden they are familiar with. We say it’s easy to claim your own space, but is it really if you haven’t done it before? And beyond the tech basics of creating that space, what can we do to make the social aspects of that space, the network and communal aspects easier? When was the last time you helped someone get started on the open web? When was the last time I did? Where can we encounter those that want and need help getting started? Outside of education I mean, because people like Greg McVerry have been doing great work there.

School children are traveling to The Hague in droves today, to demand climate action. The train is overly full, with youth and with energy. Not all fitted on to the train, so some were left on the platform to take the next one. Good to see the spirit of activism.

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Met up with an old friend at the Beiaard cafe in Enschede tonight. It’s one of a range of conversations I am having these months with people I know but haven’t spoken to for a long time. Out of curiosity for their work, their experiences, and the things they care about. As a source of inspiration and ideas.

As a student I spent a lot of time at the Beiaard, first at the location opposite their current spot, and when it was still called Brandpunt. It was one of the places we used as meeting point for the cigar smoking club we both helped found at university. (We had our own brand of cigars, sold at selected pubs we frequented)

It was good to catch up, and talk about our lives. We hadn’t met in probably 20 years. And we had a drink at our old watering hole.

Meeting an old friend in Enschede

Today I had some appointments in Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands. On my way back to the railway station I walked past the Groninger Museum and noticed an exhibition by the US glass artist Dale Chihuly. I decided to use a bit of time to spare before taking the train back, and visit. Such spur of the moment decisions are made very easy because both E and I have a Museum card, which makes access to all Dutch museums free of charge, or with a small surcharge for special exhibits such as this one. It means only time and appetite determine the decision to visit an exhibition. And if it disappoints to simply walk out after a few minutes.

Chihuly’s work is about the artisanship involved in making large scale glass objects and installations. Forms, textures and riots of color. I find it endlessly fascinating to read the small stories about the difficulties of artisanal processes like these.

It’s why the hallway filled with notes, sketches, doodles and descriptions would have been enough of an attraction to me, although the finished objects often presented in combination with sketched preliminary studies were great too.

Chihuly Groninger Museum Chihuly Groninger Museum

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Chihuly Groninger Museum Chihuly Groninger Museum

Chihuly Groninger Museum Chihuly Groninger Museum

Chihuly Groninger Museum

The ‘on this day in earlier years‘ plugin I recently installed on this blog is already proving to be useful in the way I hoped: creating somewhat coincidental feedback loops to my earlier blogposts, self serendipity.

Last week I had lunch with Lilia and Robert, and 15 years ago today another lunch with Lilia prompted a posting on lurking in social networks / blog networks. With seventeen comments, many of them pointing to other blogposts it’s a good example of the type of distributed conversations blogging can create. Or could, 15 years ago. Re-reading that posting now, it is still relevant to me. And a timely reminder. I think it would be worth some time to go through more of my postings about information strategies from back then, and see how they compare to now, and how they would translate to now.

Via Michel Bauwens’ FB profile I heard that Bernard Lietaer has died today. The former Belgian central banker, Euro-architect, hedge fund manager, and very active alternate currencies champion. I have learned a lot from his writings. I’m taking his passing as a trigger to (re)read his books. His arguments on how to create abundance and sustainable growth strike me as more convincing than the singularity style techno-optimists’. He was a very approachable man, and patiently entertaining my layman’s questions to him when I mailed him years ago.

A week that wasn’t busy as such, but intensive judging by how tired I was heading into the weekend.

  • Had a range of deep conversations across the country over 3 days, on running a business, on the household as economic unit, on privacy and data protection, the difference between providing a consultancy or a service versus turning it into a product, on indieweb and internet services as a utility, as well as on the future of The Green Land, my company. More conversations planned for next week. I’ve approached a range of people in my network for extended conversations to hear about their work, theb big issues they are dealing with and the developments they see.
  • Worked on a transparency benchmark for provinces.
  • Played around with the API of the Dutch national open data portal to benchmark provinces on opening data. Found out that the national portal has made some key changes without communicating it in any way. A unadvisable in my perception.
  • Spent Friday evening and time during the weekend searching the neighbourhood for our 15 year old black cat. She left the house and didn’t return. Maybe something happened to her, or she got locked into a shed by accident. Maybe she sought out a quiet spot to die, as she was clearly ageing. Not knowing what happened is more difficult than dealing with whatever did happen.
  • Visited Elmine’s brother and family on Saturday, and her parents today, as the little one clearly indicated she wanted to see them. So we did.

This definitely aligns with what I’ve seen in my network in the past two years. Whether it is just relocating the company to Estonia administratively, to run it online within the single market, or upping sticks and relocating with the company and the family to the EU27. Or getting a EU27 nationality to be able to keep doing what they’re doing within the EU27. While some of the bigger companies moving HQs or starting new subsidiaries is more visible, I already wondered when and how the invisible shift of a few jobs here, a handful there, to the EU27 would become a major news item. As they say here in the Netherlands, SME’s are the motor of the economy, not the juggernauts. Seeing a steady trickle of those SMEs move away from the UK can’t but end up having a big impact economically.

When the supermarket hopes that the winter weather and snow fall not just freezes the roads but also your brain…..

Five kilos of road salt sold at E5,99 or 1,20 per kilo as ‘special offer’. Special indeed, as immediately opposite in the same aisle kitchen salt goes for 0,36 per kilo. Even though the kitchen salt is refined and cleaned, it is still two thirds cheaper than the untreated ‘road salt’. Not surprising then that the staff who tried to remove the ice from sidewalk in front of the supermarket were using the kitchen salt, not the salt from their own ‘special offer’.

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road salt, 1,20 per kilo

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kitchen salt, 0,36 per kilo

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no wonder staff used kitchen salt, and not the high-end priced road salt

Replied to 10 years of Blogging | o.ruk.ca
I can't believe it's 10 years since I started My Blog. A lot of things have changed with my blog and with myself.

Happy Bloggiversary Oliver! A decade is a long time and much has changed, as you say, even if other things stay the same. A few months before you started blogging when you were 8, we visited your home, in August 2008, where you ran out to greet us in Dutch saying ‘hoi!’. We had a fun dinner with you, your parents and Rob and Robin. You and your parents made us feel right at home, half way around the world. Since then you have visited us twice. Once in 2014 in Enschede. The second time was last August here in Amersfoort, a decade after we first met, when you gave a presentation at our unconference for Elmine’s birthday.

I look forward to your next ten years of blogging, Oliver. Where might the next decade take us?

Oliver coming out saying 'hoi' to us
You came out to greet us when we visited PEI

Robin, Oliver, Catherine Peter, Oliver and Rob
You, with Robin and your mother, and with Rob and your father, when we first met in 2008

Replied to PublicSpaces en de weeffouten van het internet by Frank Meeuwsen
...gewoon stug door te gaan met wat ik hier doe. Mijn eigen moederschip vorm geven. Niet meer primair van me te laten horen op Twitter of een ander netwerk. Mijn eigen posse om me heen te verzamelen en het verschil gaan maken. Door dingen te doen. Door de verbinding te zoeken bij allerlei initiatieven die er al zijn. Geert-Jan, zie dit als een open uitnodiging om eens verder te praten hoe ik jullie kan helpen. Want ik wil helpen. En ik kan helpen. Tijd voor koffie?....

Bruikbare samenvatting Frank, vanmiddag kunnen we meteen de diepte in dan. Die koffie met Geert-Jan had ik ook op mijn lijstje, wat mij betreft gaan we samen. Ik mis zelf in PublicSpaces nog de erkenning/omarming van netwerkdenken, zichtbaar ook in de gecentraliseerde technologiekeuzes. Afijn, zoals je zegt ondertussen bouwen we ook voort aan het eigen moederschip.

Good conversation with Robert and Lilia (company, Lilia’s blog) today over lunch in Enschede. Explored shared challenges concerning doing business, also as a couple, seeing the household as an economically active unit, finding your way back into a field, or extending into new fields and more. It was good to catch up, and take the time to do so. Definitely need to continue that soon for several directions the conversation took us in today. Also Enschede hasn’t changed much since we left, and the problems with trains being delayed and cancelled proved part of the reason we moved still stands :).

A busy week, including a few evenings.

This week I

  • Discussed organising an open data event for local governments in March, with a client
  • Worked a day on documenting the Impact through Connection projects I help do for the Frisian libraries
  • Finalised my report on data governance for a client
  • Worked on open data use cases for a client
  • Did the Q4 book keeping for my companies
  • Had an in depth discussion about my company’s strategy with my partners
  • Had a discussion with a former business partner on potentially renewing the cooperation
  • Presented at the Citizen Science Koppelting conference in Amersfoort, about how open data can be useful context or backdrop for DIY measurements

Today I gave short presentation at the Citizen Science Koppelting conference in Amersfoort. Below is the transcript and the slidedeck.

I’ve worked on opening data, mainly with governments worldwide for the past decade. Since 2 years I’ve been living in Amersfoort, and since then I’ve been a participant in the Measure Your City network, with a sensor kit. I also run a LoRaWan gateway to provide additional infrastructure to people wanting to collect sensor data. Today I’d like to talk to you about using open data. What it is, what exists, where to find it, and how to get it. Because I think it can be a useful resource in citizen science.

What is open data? It is data that is published by whoever collected it in such a way, so that anyone is permitted to use it. Without any legal, technical or financial barriers.

This means an open license, such as Creative Commons 0, open standards, and machine readable formats.
Anyone can publish open data, simply by making it available on the internet. And plenty people, academics, and companies do. But mostly open data means we’re looking at government for data.

That’s because we all have a claim on our government, we are all stakeholders. We already paid for the data as well, so it’s all sunk costs, while making it available to all as infrastructure does not increase the costs a lot. And above all: governments have many different tasks, and therefore lots of different data. Usually over many years and at relatively good quality.

The legal framework for open data consists of two parts. The national access to information rules, in NL the WOB, which says everything government has is public, unless it is not.
And the EU initiated regulation on re-using, not just accessing, government material. That says everything that is public can be re-used, unless it can’t. Both these elements are passive, you need to request material.

A new law, the WOO, makes publication mandatory for more things. (For some parts publication is already mandated in laws, like in the WOB, the Cadastre law, and the Company Register)

Next to that there are other elements that play a role. Environmental data must be public (Arhus convention), and INSPIRE makes it mandatory for all EU members to publish certain geographic data. A new EU directive is in the works, making it mandatory for more organisations to publish data, and for some key data sets to be free of charge (like the company register and meteo data)

Next to the legal framework there are active Dutch policies towards more open data: the Data Agenda and the Open Government action plan.

The reason open data is important is because it allows people to do new things, and more importantly it allows new people, who did not have that access before, to do new things. It democratises data sources, that were previously only available to a select few, often those big enough to be able to pay for access. This has now been a growing movement for 10-15 years.

That new agency has visible effects. Economically and socially.In fact you probably already use open data on a daily basis without noticing. When you came here today by bike, you probably checked Buienradar. Which is based on the open data of the KNMI. Whenever in Wikipedia you find additional facts in the right hand column, that informations doesn’t come from Wikipedia but is often directly taken from government databases. The same is true for a lot of the images in Wikipedia, of monuments, historic events etc. They usually come from the open collections of national archives, etc.

When Google presents you with traffic density, like here the queues in front of the traffic lights on my way here, it’s not Google’s data. It’s government data, that is provided in near real-time from all the sensors in the roads. Google just taps into it, and anyone could do the same.You could do the same.

There are many big and small data sets that can be used for a new specific purpose. Like when you go to get gas for the car. You may have noticed at manned stations it takes a few seconds for the gas pump to start? That’s because they check your license plate against the make of the car, in the RDW’s open database. Or for small practical issues. Like when looking for a new house, how much sunshine does the garden get. Or can I wear shorts today (No!).

But more importantly for today’s discussion, It can be a powerful tool for citizen scientists as well. Such as in the public discussion about the Groningen earth quakes. Open seismological data allowed citizens to show their intuition that the strength and frequency of quakes was increasing was real. Using open data by the KNMI.Or you can use it to explore the impact of certain things or policies like analysing the usage statistics of the Utrecht bicycle parking locations.A key role open data can play is to provide context for your own questions. Core registers serve as infrastructure, key datasets on policy domains can be the source for your analysis. Or just a context or reference.

Here is a range of examples. The AHN gives you heights of everything, buildings, landscape etc.
But it also allows you to track growth of trees etc. Or estimate if your roof is suitable for solar panels.This in combination with the BAG and the TOP10NL makes the 3d image I started with possible. To construct it from multiple data sources: it is not a photograph but a constructed image.

The Sentinel satellites provide you with free high resolution data. Useful for icebreakers at sea, precision agriculture, forest management globally, flooding prevention, health of plants, and even to see if grasslands have been damaged by feeding geese or mice. Gas mains maintainer Stedin uses this to plan preventative maintenance on the grid, by looking for soil subsidence. Same is true for dams, dikes and railroads. And that goes for many other subjects. The data is all there. Use it to your advantage. To map your measurements, to provide additional proof or context, to formulate better questions or hypotheses.

It can be used to build tools that create more insigt. Here decision making docs are tied to locations. 38 Amersfoort council issues are tied to De Koppel, the area we are in now. The same is true for many other subjects. The data is all there. Use it to your advantage. To map your measurements, to provide additional proof or context, to formulate better questions or hypotheses.

Maybe the data you need isn’t public yet. But it might be. So request it. It’s your right. Think about what data you need or might be useful to you.
Be public about your data requests. Maybe we can for a Koppelting Data Team. Working with data can be hard and disappointing, doing it together goes some way to mitigate that.

[This post was created using a small hack to export the speaking notes from my slidedeck. Strangely enough, Keynote itself does not have such an option. Copying by hand takes time, by script it is just a single click. It took less than 10 minutes to clean up my notes a little bit, and then post the entire thing.]

Service announcement: I regularly lie to data gathering platforms like FB. So any message from FB telling you it’s my birthday today can be safely ignored. It’s not. They wanted to check my age when I created the account. They don’t need a day and month for that, and for that matter any year before 2000 will do. I lied to FB. You should too.

For those of you sending birthday wishes: thank you, I appreciate hearing from you. It’s good to know you