A lovely day today in Rotterdam. Meeting up with my niece A, coffee at her place, lunch in the beautiful Market Hall which is just steps away, and visiting the Blijdorp Zoo together. Train to and from Rotterdam, metro within Rotterdam, Y proudly using her own public transport pass. Back home the first dinner outside in the garden this season to top it off.
Rotterdam skyline with the cube houses in front, De Rotterdam and South Tower building in the background to the left, the Pencil on the right.
Starting in 2010 I have posted an annual ‘Tadaa’ list, a list of things that made me feel I had accomplished something that year. I started doing it in 2010 because I tend to forget things I did after completion. Like last year I didn’t feel much like writing this. It seemed a greyish year, passing in the shadow of the war that Russia wages on Ukraine. A year where Covid is still very much around us, yet things sort-of returned to normal. But for a different value of normal, a somewhat twisted normal, a parallel one. An appearance and pretense of normal perhaps more than an actual normal. An intransitive year almost, taking me from 2021 to 2023, but without object. Or maybe it’s because the last few months were extremely busy, pushing through more than being in the here and now, which sapped the colour from the months preceding it. Which is as good a reason as any to try and list the things that did bring a sense of accomplishment. I do have my day logs from the entire year, as well as kept up posting week notes here, so I can look back at what went on these past 12 months.
So here goes, in no particular order:
- The European High Value Data list has become law in December. Two years ago I had a defining influence on the data it lists for earth observation, environment and meteorology. Even if the implementation period is 16 months and some datasets may get a temporary exemption for another two years, and even if it doesn’t go far enough (mostly on company information) to the taste of many, it is an important milestone. It draws the line under discussions about paywalls and exclusive access rights that were already old when I got involved in open data in 2009, in favor of mandatory pro-active publication for all to use freely. I’m glad I could translate my experience in this field into something now enshrined much more solidly in EU law.
- We took regular breaks as a family. We started the year in Luzern, spent a week in Limburg in April, spent three weeks in Bourgogne doing most of nothing. Had weekend trips, to various musea for instance. One of the things E and I decided, while hanging out in front of our tent in the Bourgogne last summer, was to mark all school holidays in our own calendar in the coming year, to either take them off ourselves, or to keep them free of work appointments. I think it should be possible without impacting my output, but it will require careful planning.
- I’ve kept an actualised guide about the incoming EU data legislation in Dutch for a client. It gets automatically generated directly from my own working notes in Obsidian which appeals to me in terms of nerdy workflow, and it is highly used by Dutch government data holders and regularly mentioned as a very useful resource which speaks to its utility.
- I enjoyed homecooking a few software tools. Early in the year I adapted my OPML booklists so they are generated directly from my own book notes. (Although the negative side effect has been I did not blog about my reading at all, which I intend to change soon) I particularly enjoyed enabling myself to post through Micropub to my various websites. Through it I can post from various sources bypassing the WordPress back-end, inluding directly from my local notes in Obsidian, and from my feedreader. Every time feels like magic despite the fact I wrote the scripts myself. I think that sense of magic stems from the reduction of friction it affords.
- I helped the foundation I chair through a inconvenient period of administrative issues. Nothing serious in itself, but right at a moment where it did have consequences for the team, which I was able to cushion. We also extended the number of board members, laying a better fundament for the coming years.
- The influx of many new users into the Fediverse spurred my involvement in the use and governance of Mastodon. I helped plan a governance structure for the largest Dutch instance, and intend to help out in the coming year as well. We’re building a non-profit legal entity around it, and secured initial funding for that from a source in line with that non-profit status. I enjoyed also kicking off some discussion within the Dutch forum for standards that prescribes the mandatory standards for the Dutch public sector.
- I keynoted at BeGeo, the Belgian annual conference of the geo-information sector, at the invitation of the Belgian national geographics institute. It was fun to create the story line for it, as well as enjoyed the sense of traveling and meeting with a professional community I’m normally not part of. It’s the type of thing I often did for years, and I miss it I noticed. Something to look out for in the coming months.
- My company had a great year, apart from a hick-up after the summer, to the occasion of which the team rose fantastically. We grew despite that hick-up, adding two new team members in May and September, and signed an additional new hire in December. As of February we will be ten people. The work we’re doing is highly interesting, around digital ethics, data governance mostly, engaging new clients frequently. Our team is a great group of people, and I think we all take good care of eachother. We completed the 11th year of my company which I think is already an amazing run. For next year our portfolio is already mostly filled.
- During the pandemic lock-downs in 2021 we hired cabins for all team members at a holiday park to work and hang out together for a week while maintaining social distancing advice. We realised we wanted to do that yearly regardless of pandemics, and did so in 2021 again. It’s an important thing for both the social and professional dimensions of our company.
- I took my homecooked projects as the starting point for a presentation at WordCamp Netherlands to plead for more general adoption of IndieWeb principles, specifically webmention and microformats in WordPress which met with good responses and helped spur on at least one coder to finish and publish a plugin. I’m mostly a boundary spanner in these settings, at the edge of communities, in this case the WordPress community, and being able to bring a story and suggestions for change into a commmunity from another context and see it getting a response is something I enjoy.
- Seeing Y grow and thrive, in school, socially, reading, swimming, skating.
- Decided to join my old fraternity on their 30th anniversary trip to Montenegro, and am glad I did. Montenegro is a beautiful and rugged country.
- I’ve been writing in this space continuously for twenty years now. Even if my writing here in the past few months has been less frequent, an expression of how busy it was in other aspects of my life, blogging has been a constant and a key to creating new conversations, connections, ideas and experiments.
- I explored new tools to integrate in my personal workflow, like annotating with Hypothes.is, using machine translation (DeepL) and AI text and image generators. This as starting point for turning them into personal software tools in future months.
We spent some days around New Year in Switzerland, visiting dear friends. As years go by, such things become more important, never less. The simple fact of time passing means old friendships carry ever more context and meaning.
Ever onwards! (After having the first week of January off and spending it with the three of us that is.)
E and Y discussing artworks in the Rijksmuseum Twenthe. A great way to spend time together.
Back in 2014 the FabLab in Donetsk, Ukraine, was closed at gunpoint at the command of someone who was a user of the space until then, and my acquaintance K who ran the Donetsk FabLab had to flee. In the past months I have regularly wondered about Ukrainian makers and small production companies. I’m sure all have been struggling.
During the pandemic lockdowns I ordered online with independent book stores and artisans in several European cities, to contribute something to their continuity.
After the summer I started looking for Ukraine based makers to similarly order some useful things, but I found it hard to find such makers. Then a FT journalist posted a number of links to Ukrainian brands in a Twitter thread, which I looked at.
I’ve ordered a blanket with the printed street pattern of Kyiv, which is a nice open data touch, from woolkrafts. A glass artefact from Olga Turetska, and two copies of an English language book on innovation in Ukraine from Osnovy Publishing. In a conversation with one of the staff at the publishing house, I was pointed to a newly launched online platform where you can find Ukrainian products. It’s called Made with Bravery. The list of makers selling through the platform is slowly growing.
My packages are making their way to me, and one has reached Dutch customs. If you order something too, do allow for a longish shipping period. There are other logistical issues way more important in Ukraine at the moment than delivery of commercial packages.
First day of school. Image Ton Zijlstra, license cc by nc sa
It’s the first day of school after the summer. With the third image taken (2020, 2021) this is now a series :D.