Since yesterday evening I am residing at the top floor of our home. This as I fell ill with Covid. Sleeping away from E and Y hopefully reduces the risk of them also getting infected. I had opened the door to our small roof terrace for ventilation (helped by it finally not raining and being sunny). Already earlier today two magpies were making noise out on the terrace. I woke up from a nap because of similar noises, and assumed the same source. Somehow it sounded nearer though. Turns out one of the magpies had decided to explore inside, and then didn’t find the way back. I sort of chased and guided it to the door opening, and then it settled in the tree across the watercourse yelling at me.

How could I not buy these small notebooks? Made by my friend Peter from paper cut-offs from boxes he made and printed in Tuscany, they are made from Magnani 1404 paper. Magnani started making paper in Pescia in 1404 (they ceased operation in recent years, but another Magnani is still making paper, since 1481), right at the moment in time that the literate population of Tuscany started using paper notebooks to make everyday notes, and lots of them. Paper had become affordable and available enough roughly a century earlier, with Tuscany being at the heart of that, and Florentine merchants used their book keeping system and the paper notebooks needed for it to build a continent spanning trade network. After the Black Death personal note taking took off too, and from 1400 onwards it had become commonplace:

At the end of the Middle Ages, urban Tuscans seemed stricken with a writing fever, a desire to note down everything they saw.’ But they remained a peculiarly local phenomenon: there was something uniquely Florentine (or more accurately ‘Tuscan’ as examples also survive from Siena and Lucca) about them,…

Allen, Roland. The Notebook: A History of Thinking on Paper (p. 61).”

Around the turn of the year I gave The Notebook as a present to Peter thinking it would be something to his liking. My own notes have helped me learn and work for decades. E and I when we lived in Lucca for a month, passed through Pescia by train en route to Firenze.

Tuscany, paper from a company that was there from the start of everyday note taking, The Notebook, personal knowledge management, and friendship, all coming together in this piece of craftsmanship. How could I not buy them? So I did.

A gift from my colleagues. ‘Tegeltjeswijsheid’ means ’tile-wisdom’ or the often somewhat cliché phrases that are printed on tiles as an old fashioned type of decoration. We moved into new offices this January (in the same building), and since then everyone of us is getting their own tile with some characteristic phrase etc. about them. Yesterday I received mine. It reads “In my notes of 20 years ago I see that…”. A (exaggerated! really!) reference to my personal knowledge management (pkm) system. I indeed regularly inject things into conversations, when some question or topic is discussed along the lines of “last time we discussed this in 201x, we thought this or that, and concluded somesuch”.

Gisteren is de Stichting ActivityClub opgericht en ingeschreven. De stichting vormt het onderdak voor mastodon.nl. Maar het doel van de stichting is breder: “het duurzaam stimuleren, ontwikkelen en onderhouden van de organisatorische en technische aspecten van publieke (sociale) netwerken gebaseerd op onder andere het ActivityPub-protocol, zoals Mastodon, Pixelfed en PeerTube, in het Nederlands taalgebied

Als onderdak voor mastodon.nl kunnen donaties voor het onderhoud van mastodon.nl aan de stichting worden overgemaakt, in plaats zoals tot nu toe aan een privérekening. En voor plannen om ook andere ActivityPub toepassingen aan te bieden is nu ook plek.

Zodat er voor het publiek bruikbare sociale platformen zijn die ook op een publiek controleerbare manier worden onderhouden.

Samen met Eelco Maljaars (voorzitter) en Mike Dell (secretaris) vorm ik (penningmeester) het oprichtingsbestuur. De stichting is uiteraard non-profit, en bestuurders kunnen niet worden betaald.

Bookmarked Opening Space to Remember Harrison Owen by Nancy White

The originator of the Open Space technology, Harrison Owen, died March 16th. I am very grateful to Harrison Owen, as Open Space has been a key element throughout my working life in the past two decades. Open Space has allowed me to collaboratively set the conditions at various events for interaction in a way that fosters inclusion, allows all present to be heard, and works towards outcomes that are carried by all involved. You can find resources on Open Space at Openspaceworld.org. I first encountered Open Space as a format in January 2004, and was immediately convinced of its value. Since then I’ve facilitated it in a huge variety of sessions, that included our BlogWalk series 2004-2008, many conference side-events, Barcamps, IndieWeb camps, and the birthday unconferences E and I have hosted over the years. At times opening and especially closing the space can be an emotional experience. “Coming down to earth from creating and surfing the group’s collective energy and shared attention, from weaving the tapestry of the experience togetheras I wrote two years ago.

…the person who birthed OST, Harrison Owen, who passed away earlier this month…

Nancy White


One of the guidelines of Open Space posted on the wall in our living room as nudge and reminder for the participants of our Working on Stuff That Matters birthday unconference in 2010.

A little over a decade ago I was at a small conference, where I happened to share the stage with a British lawyer, Polly Higgins, seeking to internationally criminalise ‘ecocide’, alongside various other speakers. One of those others was a self declared rationalist running a data driven research start-up with billionaire funding. He believed the trickle down innovation trope that usually ends in pulling up the ladder behind them, which can be readily found around all things tech-singularity. And he called himself a futurist. After the talks we as speakers stood on and in front of the stage chatting about the things that had been presented. The futurist, addressing me and one other speaker, chuckled that ‘that eco-lady’ had a nice idea but a naive unrealistic and irrational one that obviously had zero probability of happening. At the time I found it jerkish and jarring, not least given the guys’s absence of expertise in the fields concerned (environment and international law). It’s one of the key moments I remember from that conference, as the condescending remark so strongly clashed with the rest of the event and atmosphere.

Meanwhile we’re some 10 years into the future of that conference. The futurist’s efforts collapsed soon after the conference it seems and there are no recent online traces of him. Polly Higgins is no longer alive, but her cause has very much outlived her. On 26 March the final step in the legislative path of a renewed Directive on the protection of the environment through criminal law has been taken, when the Council of the EU formally approved the text agreed (last November) with the European Parliament. In that new ecocrimes directive preamble 21 uses the phrase ecocide to describe specific crimes covered in the Directive (PDF).

Criminal offences relating to intentional conduct listed in this Directive can lead to catastrophic results, such as widespread pollution, industrial accidents with severe effects on the environment or large-scale forest fires. Where such offences cause the destruction of, or widespread and substantial damage which is either irreversible or long-lasting to, an ecosystem of considerable size or environmental value or a habitat within a protected site, or cause widespread and substantial damage which is either irreversible or long-lasting to the quality of air, soil, or water, such offences, leading to such catastrophic results, should constitute qualified criminal offences and, consequently, be punished with more severe penalties than those applicable in the event of other criminal offences defined in this Directive. Those qualified criminal offences can encompass conduct comparable to ‘ecocide’, which is already covered by the law of certain Member States and which is being discussed in international fora.

Good work barrister Higgins, and the Stop Ecocide organisation.


A photo taken by Polly Higgins of me as we had fun together driving an all electric ‘motor bike’ around the venue’s hallways at that conference in 2013.

Polly Higgins about to take the e-chopper for a spin through the venue.