This morning I watched parts of Andy Matuschak’s stream that shows him working on processing his thoughts and notes from a book he read.
It’s about 100 minutes of seeing him making notes….

There is much value in getting an insight in how other people actually do their work (the master-apprentice model is important for a reason), and it is not often you get to see how knowledge workers organise and do the things they do. It’s why I e.g. documented the way I currently use Obsidian for my PKM system. As a resource for my future self, and as a way to offer others a glimpse so they may take some part of it that fits with their own practices.

Andy Matuschak basically took the idea of live streaming your gaming adventures, to live stream a note taking session. And it’s highly fascinating. Because it shows it is actual work that takes time and energy, digesting a book, following lines of thought, doubling back, referencing earlier material, looking things up in the book in question etc. Also of interest is he is focusing on the tensions that what he read causes with other things he knows and has read. He’s not just lifting things out that chime with him, but the things that cause friction. Because in that friction lies the potential of learning.

I had come across this video earlier already this summer, and then only watched the first few minutes. Then I was expecting something else, that the video would show his set-up. I didn’t have time to watch someone go through their actual process. Now I re-encountered it in a different context and the video made much more sense this time 🙂

Browsing through Andy Matuschak’s public Digital Garden is also interesting to do.

I coined a new Dutch word I think. This early morning I was thinking and writing about the words dependency, independency, interdependency, and codependency, and did so in both English and Dutch in parallel. In Dutch I realised I didn’t like the usual translation of interdependency as ‘wederzijdse afhankelijkheid’ which literally translated back to English says mutual dependency. It seems to miss a key aspect. It emphasizes the mutuality of being dependent i.e. two separate dependencies in a vice versa fashion. To me the ‘inter’ in interdependent is not merely the two things that are connected through it, but a third place. A strenghtening of multiple independents by entering into a constellation, not a weakening through mutually assured dependence. A third place that is a synergetic togetherness, centered between the things connected through it, something that is more than the sum of its parts. In that richer connectedness lies the complexity of our lives. ‘Mutual dependent’ sounds like a so much poorer term than ‘interdependent’. It leans more towards codependency even. I of course have a strong interest in the meaning of the word interdependent, as it has been the most important word in the name of this weblog since 2002 (and hence became part of my personal company and holding company name too).

I tried to find a Dutch term for it, couldn’t find an existing one and then I came up with ‘samenhankelijk’, which is a concatenation of ‘together’ and ‘pendant’, into something akin to ‘tangled together’ (the Dutch word for entanglement, ‘verstrengeling’ lacks the mutuality and relational aspect, is more a physical description like of a Gordian knot).

I searched samenhankelijk. It turns out that it doesn’t exist. The word is not in the most authoritative Dutch dictionary, Startpage doesn’t have any results, and Google has 5 (but used, wrongly, as the word ‘samenhangend’ which means coherent).

Van Dale dictionary no results Startpage no search results
No results in the dictionary, no results in search.

Now I am blogging this to put the word samenhankelijk out there, and have it indexed by the search algorithms. I also registered the domain name samenhankelijk.nl, just because I can, and will put up a ‘dictionary’ page there, to claim the term’s definition. By default that domain has perfect SEO! Let’s see how soon this blogpost is the first for this Google search 😀

Wednesday it was 18 years ago that I first posted in this space. The pace of writing has varied over the years, obviously intensively at the start, and in the past 3 years I have been blogging much more frequently again (with a correlated drop off in my Facebook activity to 0), more than at the start even.

This year is of course different, with most of the people I know globally living much more hyper local lives due to pandemic lockdowns. This past year of blogging turned out more introspective as a consequence. In the past few years I took the anniversary of this blog to reflect on how to raise awareness for grasping your own agency and autonomy online, and reading last year‘s it’s so full of activity from our current perspective, organising events, going places. None of that was possible really this year. I returned home from the French Alps late February and since then haven’t seen much more than my work space at home, and the changing of the seasons in the park around the corner, punctuated only with a half dozen brief visits to Amsterdam and two or three to Utrecht in the past 8 months. A habit of travel has morphed into having the world expedited to our doorstep, in cardboard packaging in the back of delivery vans.

Likewise my ongoing efforts and thinking concerning networked agency, distributed digital transformation and ethics as a practice has had a more inward looking character.

Early in the year we completed the shift of my company’s internal systems to self-hosted Nextcloud and Rocket.chat. When the pandemic started we added our own Jitsi server for video conferencing, although in practice with larger groups we use Zoom mostly, next to the systems our clients rolled out (MS Teams mostly). Similarly I will soon have completed the move of the Dutch Creative Commons chapter, where I’m a board member, to Nextcloud as well. That way the tools we use align better with our stated mission and values.

I spent considerable time renovating my PKM system, and the tools supporting it, with Obsidian the biggest change in tooling underneath that system since a decade or so. It means I am now finally getting away from using Evernote. Although I haven’t figured out yet what to do, if anything, with what I stored in Evernote in the 10 years I’ve been using it daily.

This spring I left Facebook and Whatsapp completely (I’ve never used Instagram), not wanting to have anything to do anymore with the Facebook company. I departed from my original FB account 3 years ago, which led to me blogging much more again, but created a new account after a while to maintain a link to some. That new account slowly but steadily crept back into the ‘dull’ moments of the day, and when the pandemic increased the noise and hysterics levels aided by FB’s algorithmic amplification outrage machine, I decided enough was enough. A 2.5 year process! It more or less shows how high the, mostly misplaced, sense of cost of leaving can be. And it was also surprising how some take such a step as an act of personal rejection.

I also see my Twitter usage reducing, in favour of interacting more on my personal Mastodon instance, through e-mail (yay for e-mail) and LinkedIn (where your interaction is tied to your professional reputation so much less of a ragefest). Even though I never dip into the actual Twitter stream, as I only check Twitter using Tweetdeck to keep track of specific topics, groups and interests. This summer I from close-up saw how the trolls came for a colleague that moved to a position in national media. Even if the trolling and vitriol was perhaps mild by e.g. US standards, it made me realise again how there was an ocean of toxic interaction just a single click away from where I usually am on Twitter.

On the IndieWeb side of things, I of course did not get to organise new IndieWebCamps like last year in Amsterdam and Utrecht. I’ve thought about doing some online events, but my energy flowed elsewhere. I’ve looked more inwardly here as well. I’ve been bringing my presentation slides ‘home’, closing my Slideshare account, and removing my company from Scribd as well. This is a still ongoing process. The solution is now clear and functional, but moving over the few hundred documents is something that will take a bit of time. I don’t want to move over the bulk of 14 years of shared slide decks, but want to curate the collection down to those that are relevant still, and those that were published in my blog posts at the time.

I am tinkering with a version of this site that isn’t ‘stream’ (blogposts in reverse chronological order), and isn’t predominantly ‘garden’ (wiki-style pseudo-static content), but a mix of it. I’ve been treating different types of content here differently for some time already. A lot never is shown on the front page. Some posts are never distributed through RSS, while some others are only distributed through RSS and unlisted on the site (my week notes for instance). Now I am working on removing what is so clearly a weblog interface from the front page. The content will still be there of course, the RSS feeds will keep feeding, all the URLs will keep working, but the front of this site I think should morph into something that is much more a mix of daily changes and highlighted fixtures. Reflecting my current spectrum of interests more broadly, and providing a sense of exploration, as well as the daily observations and occurrences.

Making such a change to the site is also to introduce a bit of friction, of a need to spend time to be able to get to know the perspectives I share here if you newly arrive here. I think that there should be increased friction with increased social distance. You’ll know me better if you spend time here. The Twitter trolling example above is a case of unwanted assymmetry in my eyes: it’s incredibly easy for total strangers to lob emotion-grenades at someone, low cost for them, potentially high-impact for the receiver. Getting within ‘striking distance’ of someone should carry a cost and risk for the other party as well. A mutuality, to phrase it more constructively.

Here’s to another year of blogging and such mutuality. My feed reader brings me daily input from so many of you, around the world, and I’m looking forward to many more distributed conversations based on that. Thank you for reading!

Replied to Really Simple Syndication by Erik VisserErik Visser (publicworks.nl)
Vanaf begin dit jaar ben ik RSS weer aan het afstoffen. ... Netvibes weer eens bekeken en 99% van alle rss feeds werkten niet meer. ... Ik ben blij met mijn hervonden feed (die potentieel het hele internet bestrijkt). En als je nog mooie, bijzondere mensen met een site kent. Ik hoor het graag.

Naast RSS heb je, las ik bij Frank, ook Webmention aan dus schrijf ik een reactie vanaf mijn eigen blog. Ik heb 3 jaar geleden toen ik weer vaker ging bloggen en FB achter me liet, mijn feedreader leeg gegooid en opnieuw langzaam gevuld. Ik lees wat mensen schrijven (geen ‘bronnen’) en orden feeds op basis van mijn gevoelde sociale afstand tot hen. De aloude blogrol heb ik ook weer terug, nu in de vorm van een mens- en machineleesbare OPML file, die je in de meeste rss readers kunt importeren om te zien of er schrijvende mensen tussen zitten van je gading.

As LinkedIn has sold Slideshare to Scribd (Slideshare’s more evil twin), and the practical handover happening on September 24th, I am preparing to close down my Slideshare account. As part of that I’m downloading my material on Slideshare. The first step is getting a CSV file from them that lists all the download URLs for my slides. It also provides some statistics with those download links, so for archiving purposes I’m adding some of those stats here.

My usage of Slideshare was always intended for two things: 1) have a way to embed my presentations in my blog and for others to view them, 2) have a place that can store those files, 3) allows others to download those files. Those last two reasons were way more of an issue to solve when I started using Slideshare in 2006. Hosting packages back then were generally too small to also host presentations, both in terms of bandwidth and storage. The first reason still is an issue: having a decent viewer to show these files on a website.

My first Slideshare was in December 2006, my last November 2019, so thirteen years exactly. I uploaded 132 presentations so about 10 per year on average, but in reality it was much less spread out:

2006 1
2007 6
2008 13
2009 17
2010 32
2011 24
2012 14
2013 10
2014 6
2015 0
2016 1
2017 1
2018 3
2019 4

The peak years were 2008 through 2013, which coincide with becoming self-employed and doing a lot of awareness raising for open data. From 2014 most of my presentations were for my company, and I posted much less under my own account. (I also will need to download the material from my company’s accounts before the 24th as well).

My 2 most downloaded presentations form an interesting combination:

  • My 2008 presentation at Reboot in Copenhagen (332), that I remember very much (and that I recently converted into Notions)
  • A 2010 presentation on FabLabs (259) that I gave to an engineering company (says the description) for an internal workshop, but I have no immediate recollection of doing that. (Checking my 2010 calendar just now I do remember, seeing the client’s name)

The total views for my 132 presentations were 292708 (2217 on average)
The three most viewed presentations were:

  • My 2010 Lift Marseille, France, talk about FabLabs, 11338 views
  • My 2010 brief remarks on private sector open data during Open Data Week in Nantes, France, 8242 views
  • My talk at PolitCamp Graz, Austria in 2008, the event where I got interested in open data, but this one was about social media use w.r.t. political communication, 8009 views

The three presentations that were mostly viewed in embeds were:

  • My 2010 Lift Marseille, France, talk about FabLabs again, 7157 views in embeds, or about half of total views
  • My 2013 opening keynote for a software company’s European customer event, 3285 embed views
  • My 2012 workshop on open data as policy instrument, at the Dutch national open data conference, 3055 embed views

Given that Slideshare for me was about allowing downloads, and providing embeds, let’s look at those totals. Thirteen years with 132 uploaded presentations come out at 2286 downloads and 51633 embedded views. It’s not nothing obviously, but one can wonder if it is something worthwile enough to allow thirteen years of third party tracking.


Screenshot of my current digital garden

The blogpost I posted earlier today, on cities as a source of inspiration, is the first one that fully came from stringing some of my notes together. An earlier posting, a meta one about note taking, was based on notes, but this one is basically just putting notes together, and writing a few sentences to make them flow over into each other. With a twist though. Because the notes used as a basis are already in full text form (although mostly in Dutch), there wasn’t much writing involved in bringing the point across I started out with. In the end that freed up time that was then used to write additional things, ending up in a conclusion that wasn’t part of the source notes, but in itself ended up as new content for those notes. It think that is a nice example of writing/blogging as thinking out loud.

The source notes themselves were created last week. And while creating them I noticed for the first time that the notes in the Garden of the Forking Paths, form a thinking tool, not a collection, a garden, not a back yard. I started out with just making one or two notes on cities, and while thinking how it connected to other notions already in there, additional patterns stood out to me. Additionally I couldn’t remember where I got some of the notions (e.g. cities being efficient, cities being crossroads), and that had me searching for the literature I got it from in the first place adding them to my reference library (in Zotero), which in turn teased out additional patterns ending up in notes. Feedback happening, in short. At first it bothered me that what I was doing (‘making just one or two notes on cities’) took much longer than expected, but then I realised it was an effect I intended to create, and that thinking takes time. That it took me beyond those one or two notes, but not in a yak-shaving kind of way, but as an act of creation.

Both those effects, new things rising because of writing about existing ones, and spending time thinking to be able to create, are most welcome ones.

As I write this, I realise I’ve developed a dislike for the word ‘notes’ in the past weeks to describe the plantings in my digital garden, as it invokes primary/raw note taking mostly. Maybe I should call them ‘notions’ instead. My Garden of the Forking Paths now has 234 ‘notions’, and another batch that size of ‘notes’ outside it, but somewhat interlinked with it (think day logs, tickler files, ideas, raw notes, thoughts and snippets for projects). That second batch basically is a folder structure similar to my existing Evernote notebooks.

Taking Notes
The wiki I used to take both primary and secondary notes in, in 2006. It was wikkawiki which I ran locally on my laptop, with the css adapted to that of my then employer.