Van Gogh in various scripts

Spent a fun day with Elmine today, visiting the Van Gogh museum for the very beautiful exhibition “Hockney and Van Gogh, the joy of nature“. The last time we saw a large exhibit of Hockney’s work was in 2011 in the Louisiana museum, of his iPad drawings. This time his work on landscapes was juxtaposed with van Gogh.

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Especially the enormous works were great to see. So big you feel you can step in to that world of splendid colors. The juxtaposition of Kreupelhout 1889 and Under the Trees, Bigger 2010-11 especially was great to see.

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Kreupelhout on the right, Under the Trees on the left

And then there was the amazing The Arrival of Spring in Waldgate in 2011. Too big to grasp here (365 by 975 cm).

Below another series of massive panels, made across the seasons on the same spot. All painted in situ!

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May 5th 1945 is the day that the second world war formally ended in the Netherlands with the capitulation of German troops. Since then the evening of May 4th is Remembrance Day, and the entire country observes two minutes of silence at 20:00, with flags flying half mast everywhere. May 5th is Liberation Day celebrated with festivals around the country.

The war didn’t end on May 5th 1945 for the entire country. The southern part had been liberated in the fall of 1944, and our former home town Enschede in the east had been liberated a month earlier on April 1st by British forces. The central and western parts remained occupied by 120.000 German troops until the surrender. Our current home town Amersfoort therefore wasn’t liberated through fighting but through the signing of the capitulation. The first allied forces reached Amersfoort on May 7th.

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Hanging the flag at halfmast at home. The little one insisted on helping me.

Our little one (who turns 3 in a month) is playing monsters these weeks, where she walks growling through the house swaying her arms, where she runs shrieking through the living room, or tells us to take one of those roles. Today in day care she played being chased by monsters with a friend from a few houses over. I asked her at dinner what those monsters would do if they caught her. “Eat us!” Then I asked her where the monsters come from. “They come out of my head. They’re ‘as if’.”

She’s right of course. Most of all our monsters are like that.

It’s King’s Day #koningsdag in the Netherlands. And this year the royal family is visiting our hometown Amersfoort. Despite the rain the country will turn orange in most places. (below screenshot of the rain radar, #opendata ftw) The little one has been asking to go into town since 8am this morning.

Scariest words today: “Daddy, am I wearing diapers?”, while we’re in the car. The little one has been practicing going without diapers at home, and when she asked I realised we went shopping without wearing a diaper. Back home she ran to the bathroom. Made it!

Chaired my first board meeting of the Open State Foundation tonight. A pleasure to do, and a relaxed and upbeat setting. With the ceo as well as me being new, the experience of the deputy ceo and my fellow board members, and the professionalisation of the past few years, it feels like a good mix to move OSF forward together.

Veel herkenbaars in je verhaal Frank. Zelf was ik ook in Utrecht gisteren, en wat me aan de online en tv berichtgeving opviel is vooral hoe het onrust aanwakkert. Terwijl de berichtgeving letterlijk inhoudsloos is, suggereert het format (de hijgerigheid, live, er bovenop) zoals je schrijft, dat er ieder moment iets belangrijks kan gebeuren, en dus blijf je het volgen.

Je hebt in dit soort gevallen alleen iets aan berichtgeving als het van belang is voor je handelingsperspectief in een verder nog chaotische en onzekere situatie. De hijgerigheid suggereert wel dat je iets zou moeten doen, anything, maar geeft je geen suggesties wat dan. Je wordt verteld dat er een stress situatie is maar krijgt geen bruikbare informatie voor je fright, fight or flight reflexen. Want die verslaggevers weten uiteraard helemaal niets. Ze dragen alleen maar hun eigen fight or flight onrust aan jou over omdat zij met hun stress ook nergens heen kunnen. Op dat moment zijn ze niet professioneel genoeg kennelijk om dat te doorbreken en te doorzien dat hun eigen diep menselijke reflexen niet betekenen dat er echt iets te melden valt.

Handelingsinformatie gisteren die in de berichtgeving wel van belang was, zijn dingen als dat de school van je dochter in lock-down was, dat je uit voorzichtigheid beter niet de straat op kon gaan zolang ze die gast nog niet te pakken hadden, dat treinen bussen en trams niet reden, en dat de A2 deels afgesloten was. De eindeloze herhaling van alle overige ruis maakt dat je die handelingsinformatie nog over het hoofd zou kunnen zien ook. Veel had achterwege kunnen blijven, zonder dat dat de ernst van de zaak had gebagatelliseerd en zonder mensen ongeïnformeerd te laten.

Zoals op de radio bijvoorbeeld meer het geval was. Dat format, liedjes draaien, leent zich niet goed voor de hijgerigheid die op tv wel kan. Dus daar was er vooral elk half uur een kort bulletin “we weten nog niets meer, en de burgemeester zegt dat je beter binnen kunt blijven”. Dat was op alle andere kanalen ook ruim voldoende geweest.

(Het doet me denken aan de nieuwsvoorziening na de vuurwerkramp in Enschede in 2000. Niets van wat de tv of pers bracht de eerste 24 uur was bruikbaar. Het enige waar we in de eerste chaotische uren wat aan hadden was handelingsinformatie. Zoals de locatie van gewonden-nesten en triage-plaatsen. Zodat we de verdwaasde mensen die we op straat tegen kwamen naar professionele hulp konden wijzen.)

Replied to De vorm van het nieuws bij #24oktoberplein by Frank Meeuwsen

De dag begon best rustig. Zo’n typische maandag zonder al teveel beslommeringen. Kinderen zijn naar school en ik zit wat vervelend administratief werk te doen. Ineens komt de pushmelding van Nu.nl binnen dat er een schietpartij gaande is in Utrecht, op een plein aan de andere kant van de stad waar…

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.

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Chihuly Groninger Museum Chihuly Groninger Museum

Chihuly Groninger Museum Chihuly Groninger Museum

Chihuly Groninger Museum

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 :).

Sometime last year I had a conversation with a friend who told me he was starting a new company together with his wife. I thought it was an inspiring and intriguing step, and also a logical extension of thinking of the household as an economic unit (after all, economics, after Aristotle(‘s student)’s work titled Οἰκονομικά, oikonimika, means household management).

We’re in a similar situation, both of us working as independent professionals. Regularly there are things where one of us might support the other with something, so both of us can be more effective in our work.

Today we sat down for a first scheduled and real conversation about how to augment each other’s efforts, and what steps to take. It is in part also a result of our sessions with our financial planner, which showed us the importance of more closely looking at our household as an economic unit, and less as two separate working individuals.

Some first actions have been formulated, and I hope we can keep up these conversations and sparring sessions.

Today I made my first Open Street Map edit. Open Street Map is a global map, created by its users (which includes lots of open government geographic data). My first edit was triggered by Peter Rukavina’s call to action. He wrote how he wants to add or correct Open Street Map data for a location when he mentions that location or business in his blogposts. He also calls upon others to do the same thing.

I don’t think I mention locations such as restaurants often or even at all in my blog, so it’s an easy enough promise for me to make. However, I did read and copy the steps Peter describes. First installing Alfred on my laptop. Alfred is a workflow assistant basically. I know Peter uses it a lot, and I looked at it before, and until now concluded that the Mac’s standard Spotlight interface and Hazel work well enough for me. But the use case he describes for quickly searching in a map through Alfred made sense to me: it’s a good way to make Open Street Map my default search option, and foregoing Google Maps. So I installed Alfred, and made a custom search to use Open Street Map (OSM).

The next step was seeing if there was something small I could do in OSM. Taking a look on the map around our house, I checked the description of the nearest restaurant and realised most meta-data (such as opening hours, cuisine, etc) were missing. I registered my account on OSM, and proceeded to add the info. As Peter mentions, such edits immediately get passed on to applications making use of OSM. One of those applications is a map layer showing restaurants that are currently open, and my added opening hours show up immediately:

My first edit also resulted in being contacted by a OSM community member, as they usually review the early edits any new user makes. It seems I inadvertently did something wrong regarding the address (OSM in the Netherlands makes use of the government data on addresses, BAG, and I entered an address by hand. As it came from a pick-up list I assumed it was sourced from the BAG, but apparently not). So that’s something to correct, after I find out how to do that.

[UPDATE: The fix was simple to do. The issue was that in the Netherlands the convention is to add meta data about stores to its corresponding address node (not as a separate node, unless there are more businesses at the same address). So the restaurant node I amended should not have been there. I copied all the attributes (tags) over to the address node, and then deleted the original node I edited. The information about the restaurant is now available from the address node itself. If you follow the link to the earlier node, you will now see it says that I deleted it.

I think it’s also great that within minutes of my original edit I had a message from a long time community member, Eggie. He welcomed me, pointed me to some resources on good practice and conventions, before providing some constructive criticism and nudge me in the right direction. Not by fixing what I did wrong, but by explaining why something needed improvement, and linking to where I could find out how to fix it myself, and saying if I had any questions to message him. After my correction I messaged him to check if everything was up to standard now which he acknowledged, ending with ‘happy mapping’. This is the type of welcoming and guidance that healthy communities provide. My Wikipedia experiences have been different I must say.
/UPDATE]

Frank Meeuwsen (in Dutch) writes about “what I don’t know”. Two things stand out for me from Frank’s post:
One is how he quotes Colin Devroe who on the same topic says he calls himself a Reverse Engineer, figuring something out when the need arises. I love that ‘job title’.

Second is how Frank puts curiosity forward as the key ingredient for anything. Curiosity takes you a long way he says. And it does. Which is why I get worried when I don’t have the energy to be curious about new things. Or when I realise I’m no longer truly curious about the needs and drives of clients. It’s often a sign something needs to change, or that I might need to move on. In the past few years there was little space for curiosity, mostly because we had five major life events happen in the space of 24 months and it took a year to settle back into ‘normal’. This is why I am glad I found my blogging voice back in the past 12 months. Over the last 16 years my blog has been a good instrument to trigger, feed and explore my curiosity. Me blogging more means I’m curious to expand my horizons again. It’s also why I want to get back into the habit of reading more non-fiction, as reading the thoughts of others usually triggers thoughts and questions to explore on my end. And it addresses part of the knowledge gap. Even if it never fixes it, after all everyone has chronical impostor syndrome.

Liked Wat ik niet weet by Frank Meeuwsen

Ik heb soms het idee dat mij meer kennis en intelligentie wordt toegedicht dan de werkelijkheid heeft te bieden. Er zijn onderwerpen en kennisgebieden waar ik iets meer dan gemiddeld in ben geïnteresseerd maar ik kan me moeilijk een echte specialist op een gebied noemen. Het is goed om te weten dat…

It’s the end of December, and we’re about to enjoy the company of dear friends to bring in the new year. This means it is time for my annual year in review posting, the ‘Tadaa!’ list.

Eight years ago I started writing end-of-year blogposts listing the things that happened that year that gave me a feeling of accomplishment, that make me say ‘Tadaa!’. (See the 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010 editions). I am always moving forwards to the next thing as soon as something is finished, and that often means I forget to celebrate or even acknowledge things during the year. Sometimes I forget things completely. Although I have worked on improving that sense of awareness over the past few years, it remains a good way to reflect on the past 12 months. So, here’s this year’s Tadaa!-list:

  • The Smart Stuff That Matters unconference and bbq party in honour of Elmine’s 40th birthday was an awesome event bringing together so many great people from our various contexts. Thank you to all who were there, from right next door to halfway across the globe, and so many different places in between. It is a great privilege you came together in our home.
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    So much fun having you all at STM18! Of course we had the mythical German sausages again….
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    Peter made a sketch of our house, sitting in the garden
  • Being witness and officiating at our dear friends’ Klaas and Amarens wedding in Tuscany.


    Dinner al fresco / Thirty years of friendship (images by Elmine)
  • Presenting Networked Agency during a keynote at State of the Net in Trieste. A great opportunity to create a better narrative to explain Networked Agency, and present it to a much wider audience. Also great to see Paolo and Monica, as well as many others again.
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    Our friend Paolo opening State of the Net, enjoying the beautiful city of Trieste
  • Working in Serbia, Italy, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium.
  • Creating a measurement framework for open data impact, that allows for different levels of maturity, embraces complexity, and aims to prevent gaming of measurements.
  • Getting tremendous feedback by the funder of a client project last year, that it was the most exciting thing they funded.
  • Getting asked back by multiple clients
  • Joining the board of Open Nederland, the Dutch Creative Commons chapter as treasurer
  • Joining the board of Open State Foundation, the leading Dutch advocate for open government, as its chairman, after having been one of the initiators of the very first event in 2008, that later turned into this great organisation
  • Taking the time to just hang out with other geeks at IndieWebCamp in Nürnberg
  • I spent every Friday at home to be with our daughter. A joy to watch her develop.
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  • Giving the opening key-note at FOSS4GNL. I especially enjoyed writing the narrative for it, which ties local data governance to geopolitics and ethics.

    the Dutch open source geo community, and during the keynote (images Steven Ottens)
  • Got to be there for friends, and friends got to be there for me. Thank you.
  • Sponsoring the Open Knowledge Belgium conference with my company The Green Land, and participating in the conference with our entire team, and providing two sessions.
  • Finding my voice back in blogging. I’ve written more blogposts this year than the preceding eleven combined, and as much as the first 5 years of busiest blogging combined. As a result I’ve also written much more in-depth material than any other year since I started in 2002. This has created more space for reflection and exploration, useful to shape my ideas and direction in my work. It was inspiring to renew the distributed conversations with other bloggers. As a result I am revisiting much of my writing about information strategies and the workings of human digital networks.
  • Working with a client to further detail and document both Networked Agency and the ‘impact through connection’ project we based on it.
  • Making day trips with Elmine and (not always) Y, e.g. to BredaPhoto, Eddo Hartmann and Fries Museum. Making good use of our more central location.
  • Started to make better use of the various spaces our house offers, like the garden, the attic studio, and my own room. Room for improvement in the next year though.
  • Avoiding feeling hurried, while keeping up the level of results.

All in all it was a rather unhurried year, with more time for reflection about next and future steps. I worked 1728 hours, which averages out to about 36,5 per week worked. This is not yet getting closer to the 4 day work weeks I actually have, compared to last year, but at least stable.
I’ve read 69 books, at a steady pace. All fiction, except for a handful. I’m looking to create the space to start reading more non-fiction. That likely requires a separate approach.

Elmine gave me an amazing sculpture for my birthday, called “Strange Bird Totem”. The artist Jacqueline Schäfer’s work is described as “showing a positive vibe for life in a complex modern society“. That sort of feels like a great motto for the next year. Ever onwards!