My friend Peter has been blogging for exactly 20 years yesterday. His blog is a real commonplace book, and way more than my blog, an eclectic mixture of personal things, professional interests, and the rhythm of life of his hometown. When you keep that up for long enough, decades even, it stops being a random collection and becomes a body of work, an œuvre. Œuvre really is the right word, according to Peter he’s written 2.67 million words. Novels on average have eighty thousand words, so Peter’s blog is over 33 novels long. Most novelists aren’t that prolific.

I’m a regular reader of Peter’s blog exactly because of the quirky mix of observations, travelogues, personal things, snippets of code, and reflection. To me the way he weaves all those things into one, is what we also tried to achieve with our Smart Stuff that Matters unconference (in which Peter participated): bringing global (technology) developments back to the size of your own home life, your own city life, and letting your life inform how you want to shape and use the tools available to you. So that, in the words of Heinz Wittenbrink (another participant last summer), when you discuss themes important to you, you actually are discussing the details of your own life:

To list the themes [….of the sessions I attended…] fails to express what was special about the unconference: that you meet people or meet them again, for whom these themes are personal themes, so that they are actually talking about their lives when they talk about them. At an unconference like this one does not try to create results that can be broadcast in abstracted formulations, but through learning about different practices and discussing them, extend your own living practice and view it from new perspectives. These practices or ways of living cannot be separated from the relationships in which and with which you live, and the relationships you create or change at such an event like this.

Heinz’ last sentence in that quote “These practices or ways of living cannot be separated from the relationships in which and with which you live.” is true and important as well.

Of the 20 years Peter kept up his blog, I’ve known him for 14 years almost to the day, ever since we met in a Copenhagen hotel lobby mid June 2005. Our first meeting was aptly technology mediated. As Heinz wrote, our blogging practices cannot be separated from the relationships in which we live. Traces of our connections are visible through the years, building on each others thinking, meeting up in various places, visiting each others homes. Not just our specific connection but the shared connections to so many others.
Blogging isn’t just a reflection of our lives, but is an active part in weaving the connections that make up our lives.

Next week Peter organises an unconference, called Crafting {:} a Life. Modelled after Elmine’s and my unconference birthday parties, Peter is celebrating not just the 20 year milestone of his blog and his company. He’s celebrating in the same way he blogs, the completeness of our lives, both the sweet and the bitter. It’s in that contrast where beauty lives to me, and how we can appreciate the value of the connections we weave. Elmine and I will go visit Peter and his family, with 50 or so others, on Prince Edward Island in Canada in a few days.

Peter recently said about our and other participants coming to Canada from Europe
It is humbling to consider that each of these old friends is coming across the ocean to join us for the simple act of spending time together talking about life for a while.
We felt the same every time we did an edition of our unconferences. Elmine wrote last summer, looking back on her birthday unconference Smart Stuff That Matters:

How do you put into words how much it means to you that friends travel [literally] across the world to attend your birthday party? … How can I describe how much it means to me to be able to connect all those people Ton and I collected in our lives, bring them together in the same space and for all of them to hit it off? That they all openly exchanged life stories, inspired each other, geeked out together, built robots together?

The simple act of spending time together talking about life for a while. is a rather rich and powerful thing to do, Peter, which packs the full complexity of being human. We look forward to seeing you, Catherine and Oliver next week, as well as 50 or so others that came to form your ‘global village’ while you were engaged in blogging a life.

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 :).

Wilma Haan has been named the new general director of the Open State Foundation. As, the equally new, chairman of the board of the Open State Foundation, I think her joining OSF is a great new step for the organisation. Backed by strong experience in both journalism and digital, she has shown herself a great energy source that will strengthen the team. The fit with Tom, who stepped in as interim director when Arjan left last summer, and the rest of the team is also very good. Tom has done great work as interim director in the past months, and will be the new deputy director. Together they will bring the Open State Foundation further, I am convinced, and I look forward to working with them both. I hope to learn lots from them, as my role on the board is a recent one as well.

My condolences Jeremy. I know how it feels to see your feed reader come to live, it happened for me around the same time as you mention, at a different event. It brought lasting friendships like you describe your friendship with Cindy. One of those friends jokingly calls us all her ‘imaginary friends’, but there’s nothing imaginary in the life events we share, and the emotions those carry. As your evocative post about your friend Cindy shows. So, my condolences, from my RSS reader to yours.

Replied to Cindy Li (adactio.com)

2005 feels like a pivotal year in my memory…went to South by Southwest for the first time. That was amazing. Not because of the event itself, but because of the people. I met, hung out with, and formed firm friendships with people whose blogs I had been reading for years—it really was like my RSS reader had come to life. It’s also where I met Cindy for the first time.

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.

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.)