Peter in his bookmarks points to a description of by Swiss blogger Lukas Mathis. lets you make a list of authors you are interested in, and then provides you with a RSS feed that will alert you to new books published by those authors. It uses the Google Books API. It’s a clever small personal tool that Lukas Mathis built. I like it. I’ve added a handful of authors from the top of my head, and subscribed to the resulting RSS feed. I also added a monthly reminder to my task list to add or remove authors from the list.

Lukas Rosenstock posted a write-up of a group discussing their personal CRM routines he organised. A little over a year ago I was impressed with how Rick Klau (an old blogging connection) described his ‘homebrew CRM‘.

Lukas mentioned there were three groups in his conversation, one using specialised tools, one group using no digital tools, and one group using more general tools (“like Roam, Notion or Airtable“). I’m definitely one of the latter.

After reading Rick’s posting a year ago I parked it for a while, but when I adopted Obsidian for note taking, after a while I also started using it for some light weight CRM notes. Unlike Rick I haven’t added any process or automation, but I did start creating CRM notes so that something like it might become possible over time.

What I started with is making notes about people I encounter.

LinkedIn has one glaring hole in its functionality and that is allowing me to add something about the context of when I met someone. After using LinkedIn for 16 years I now sometimes come across a LinkedIn contact and then don’t remember how or why we connected. LinkedIn by now does show when you connected, allowing me to browse through someone’s CV to see what that person did when we connected and try to remember the context of that connection. Xing, mostly used in German speaking countries, had this from the start including a field for a few notes on when / how you met someone. That has proved valuable. [UPDATE In the comments Aad points out such a feature has been present at some point. Online search suggests it was introduced in 2013/4 with LinkedIn Contacts, and became a premium-only feature from 2017. By 2013 I had some 2k contacts, 8 years worth of interaction, where such contextual info was missing, and I use the free version, so the general point stands, even if factually not correct since 2013]

Back when I used a wiki on my laptop for notes, I also kept CRM style notes in it, especially 2004-2008. The useful bit was that I could link to a person’s page in the various notes I made about meetings, events etc. That ‘backlinking’ overview in itself was a great way of adding contextual info.

With Obsidian and the use of simple text files in markdown I have that back, and actually in a better way than in that wiki of old. Because those text files can be approached by a wide variety of software tools, not just Obsidian.
I’m not attempting to be complete in these CRM notes, I grow them the same way as I grow the other type of notes: when I encounter someone new I make note of it. Especially when I don’t know someone yet, or don’t have a strong connection to someone I make those notes. Not so much of people that I’m already connected to like colleagues. I’ve started a few new projects in the past few months, which is always a moment when you encounter a lot of new people in a new context. So those I’ve made notes for, as it helps understand a new client organisation, relevant stakeholders and context. For now backlinking in meeting and project notes is the way for adding a record of interaction.

Maybe in a year or so I can start doing more pro-active things with those notes, like Rick has built into his routines. Another element to me is potentially leaving LinkedIn behind at some point in the future, or at least be somewhat prepared when LinkedIn goes away, as all these platforms do.

Do you have some personal CRM-type routines or automation?

HandShakeHandshakes and conversations is what I’m interested in, not marketing instruments. Image Handshake by Elisha Project, license CC BY SA

Replied to Losjes de leesmap lezen by Frank Meeuwsen (
Eens in de twee weken ben ik vrij op woensdag. Vandaag. Dat betekent voor mij niet dat ik offline de dag beleef. Verre van dat. Die woensdag is voor mij een dag om zelf op zoek te gaan online. Om mijn inbox, leesmap en losse flodders te bezoeken. Allerlei URL’s die ik gedurende de week tegenkom ma...

Zoals je weet lees ik mijn feeds op basis van sociale afstand. Bij weinig tijd kijk ik alleen even naar de feeds van mensen die ik het hoogst heb zitten, en bij meer tijd schuif ik op naar uiteindelijk de groep mensen die ik wel lees maar verder niet ken.
Grasduinend lees ik eerst uitsluitend door de feeds, wat me interessant lijkt open ik in een tab in de browser, maar lees ik nog niet verder. (Daarnaast heb ik gerichtere lees-taktieken als ik bijvoorbeeld gericht naar een onderwerp zoek, of op basis van een eigen vraag zoek). Als ik door mijn lijstje ben kijk ik pas of ik ook tijd heb voor het bekijken van de geopende tabs, of dat op een later moment doe. Ik benader feeds lezen dus een beetje als triage, zoals bij e-mail ook: van de 300 berichten vandaag vind ik er 12 interessant en de rest wordt gemarkeerd als gezien. Die 12 komen aan bod in een volgende doorgang. Of niet. Ik verlies me makkelijk in exploratief browsen, zoals jij ook beschrijft, en ik probeer er dus bewust een moment voor te creëren.

A question I have is whether the pandemic will mean a slow-down or pause in tech-innovation?
Innovation in part is based on serendipity, on the pseudo-random meeting and interaction of people, ideas, skills, capital etc. Those meetings take place in cities for instance, as they are serendipity hubs.
Yet this year I noticed how online interaction tends to stick just to the topic and agenda at hand, and there’s much less place for riffing off eachother’s ideas and suggestions for instance.

Apart from innovation driven by necessity (e.g. vaccin development), would a slow-down be visible in tech start-up founding, start-up funding (maybe not yet, as funding emerges some time after founding so it might be a delayed effect)?

Would there be a discernable impact on a city level?

Are there compensating effects? I’ve noticed that the pandemic in our company and for me personnaly led to more introspection, and meant more focus on developing things, also because there was less activity around us. A reduction of movement, a reduction of social dynamics, but the stillness enabling more action as a consequence.

How would one go about trying to see such effects, and in which data?

Kevin Quirk has started the 512KB club, a list of websites that are under 512 kilobytes in size. It’s a counter to the massively bloated web. There are real costs attached to bloated websites in terms of server, bandwidth and thus energy usage. There are lots of things that can be optimised by lowering the complexity of a website. Low-Tech Magazine has a cool website looking to radically reduce the energy used to provide it. Part of such optimisation is the basic size of the page loaded. And that is what the 512KB club focuses on.

My site isn’t minimalist, one reason being I run WordPress so every page you see here is dynamically rendered each time you look at it. But still, reducing a site’s footprint has been a side interest, as I’m curious about the various dimensions and potential actions for ‘greening’ a website that also provide a better experience to the reader and lower hosting requirements.

At GT Metrix you can analyse your website’s behaviour, and have a look at e.g. its size. My site came in at 980KB about double the limit for the 512KB book club (the mentioned Low Tech magazine comes in at 470KB). Going through the list of files making up that almost 1MB, I noticed that just 2 image files were the main culprits. All it took was optimising those two images (the header image, and a sidebar image), reducing both of them by over 90%. That alone more than halved the size of my site to 487KB.

Image file size optimisation should probably be at the top of my list going forward.

In the oil industry it is common to have every meeting start with a ‘safety moment’. One of the meeting’s participants shares or discusses something that has to do with a safe work environment. This helps keep safety in view of all involved, and helps reduce the number of safety related incidents in oil companies.

Recently I wondered if every meeting in data rich environments should start with an ethics moment. Where one of the participants raises a point concerning information ethics, either a reminder, a practical issue, or something to reflect on before moving on to the next item on the meeting’s agenda. As I wrote in Ethics as a Practice, we have to find a way of positioning ethical considerations and choices as an integral part of professionalism in the self-image of (data using) professionals. This might be one way of doing that.