It was like spring this week in Switzerland, and it was very pleasant to be outside. Wednesday we went to see the Rhine falls near Schaffhausen. There weren’t many people around. We walked across the railwaybridge to the other riverside for lunch in Neuenhausen. Along the right bank is a footpath with nice views of the falls. On the left bank, where we parked, the access to the viewpoints requires buying tickets. Looking around on the map where to explore next we spotted a photo museum in nearby Winterthur but it was between expositions. Instead we decided on visiting the Beim Stadthaus location of the Winterthur Kunstmuseum which has a collection of 20th century art.

We had the museum entirely to ourselves. We were the only three visitors. To enjoy at our leisure a wide range of works. It was great. In the 1916 museum building which also houses the natural museum, the halls are a bland beige and the works are presented without context, almost without information even. Just a name and a date. Being in there alone felt like discovering a forgotten wing of an old building that happened to have all these beautiful works of art in them. Or like being in a school building after hours when everyone else is gone. Being the only one in what is normally a frequented public building. Like you’re not supposed to be there, to have some personal time with all these works of art.

Van Gogh, Matisse, Monet, Giacometti, Calder, Arp, Mondriaan, Picasso, Braque and many more. Just us three to enjoy them, stand up close, talk about them. Walk away, come back to compare. Watch for a long time. No one also wanting their turn to look from the best angle, or trying to get a better picture.
Normally on public display, it became a fully private visit, which made it a very different quality of experience.
Who knew Winterthur held these unexpected treasures.

works by Van Gogh, Rodin, and Monet


Van Gogh and Rodin.


Painting by Leger, sculpture by Duchamp-Villon


Works by Mondriaan, Calder, Van Doesburg, Arp and Täuber-Arp

To keep the database size down on my personal Mastodon instance I routinely delete everything older than a few days. This includes anything I bookmarked. The same is true for E’s instance. There’s no ready way to get those bookmarks out of Mastodon into something else. Unlike for public things where you can get an RSS feed from instances by adding .rss to a url, for the non-public bookmarks you need to use the API.

With some suggestions by my automaton junior coding assistant I quickly had a working API call to read the bookmarks (the url is yourinstance/api/v1/bookmarks, and you need to create an access token in your Mastodon instance under the developers menu heading).

Outputting those bookmarks as RSS is a straightforward way to make it accessible to various other applications. So I added code to make an RSS feed. And it works. The code is up on Github.
I’ve added the feed both to my regular feed reader (a self-hosted FreshRSS instance), and to the RSS plugin for Obsidian. The latter so that I can easily access the bookmarks in my notes. The former so that I can from within my feedreader send it to various websites I control as well as have a second route to my notes.

A quick and satisfying home cooked coding snack.

Bookmarked Nitter is shutting down (by Alternative.to)

Nitter is a useful service to take a look at some content on Twitter without having to touch Twitter yourself. Sanitary gloves as it were, to access public Twitter content. It was also useful for sites to avoid embedding Twitter content directly and thus participating in their adtech tracking. It is now mostly impossible to look at Twitter content without being logged in, and Nitter helped solve that by providing an alternative front for it. I still have a Twitter account, but am never logged in, and I don’t intend to restart logging in regularly either. Nitter worked by using guest accounts on Twitter, a possibility that has since been discontinued by Twitter. Twitter is blocking calls from guest accounts to their APIs, and blocking the accounts when spotted it seems.

Zed, the developer behind the free and open-source Nitter project, has announced that the project is discontinued and not working anymore.

Altenative.to

In my line of work I need to regularly type the word data. I need to equally regulary type the word date. Or datum in Dutch for date, which coincidentally is also the singular for data.

My fingers often choose the wrong ending while writing. A date ends up as data, and data ends up as date. For the phrase ‘open data’ I solved that by adding an Alfred snippet ‘.od’ which expands into it. This prevents me from ever writing open date.

Today I noticed that a template in Obsidian I had tweaked yesterday threw error messages. I looked at it several times before I noticed my mistake. Where I should have typed date, I had typed data.

I now added additional snippets to Alfred. .d will expand into data. /d will become date, and .D will be datum. (/D I use already and expands into Digital Transformation)

From this data forward I will not mistype date 😉

Favorited The Making of “This Box is for Good” by Peter Rukavina

We received one of these lovely boxes in the mail just before New Year. Such a fantastic project, and what an enormous amount of work, over multiple weeks. Peter’s description of the iterative process and how the process leads to design choices along the way is a gift in itself.

I’m currently reading The Notebook, A History of Thinking on Paper by Roland Allen, which I coincidentally had sent to Peter as a gift before Christmas. In it Luca Pacioli spends a year in Paganini‘s printshop to get the Summa published, in Venice 1494. Let’s just say that several weeks is Renaissance style.

Peter and Lisa intend the boxes to be (re)filled with something and then to be given to someone else. A paying it forward process, that comes with a website to register each recipient. I’ve registered ‘our’ box, as we will soon hand it over later this week.

And, of course, every box needed to be printed with two lino blocks, one for each side. It was a process that spread out over almost two weeks.

All told, each box was printed seven times: one side each with lino-block, then four separate letterpress-printed messages on different parts of the box, and a final numbering run for the unique box numbers. …

Our hope is that boxes get received, refilled, passed on, many times; we built a little website (a Google Form, for now) to allow people to register their box number, so that we can follow their journeys around the world. …

I can say with some assurance that I have never been involved in a collaboration—artistic, logistic, design, spirit—as connected as this one was. Lisa and I can both rightfully attest that what emerged from our collaboration was something that neither of us could have arrived at individually. It was a joyful, intimate exercise in creativity. One we hope to repeat over and over.

Peter Rukavina

Every year I write a list of things that gave me some sense of accomplishment. I started writing them in 2010. This year, in an end of year session with my team I said there isn’t much this year I’m proud of from the top of my head. That probably is a good reason to make the list anyway, even if I don’t particularly feel like it. I easily tend to forget things, and leafing through the calendar and my notes is always a useful exercise. So, in random order, here are the things for my 2023 Tadaa! list.

  • It was a busy year professionally but without stress. No hectic firefights, no curveballs.
  • With our entire team, my company took a training in Portugal with Bev and Etienne Wenger-Trayner. It was great to do a training with the entire team, on a topic that is very dear to me and highly relevant to our work, and having Bev and Etienne lead us through it. Bev I’ve known for decades, and Etienne’s work on learning and communities of practice has been central to my professional perspective for as long. Many different layers of meaning combined in that week for me, personally and professionally, and clarified how deeply I am emotionally tied to social learning, agency and change in my work. It was beautiful.
  • We added two people to our team, in February and October, and grew by almost a third in turnover. That we had a fun year together with good projects and providing us all with a stable income every month is something that gives me great satisfaction.
  • My role in supporting the interprovincial ethics committee, that started last January, I enjoy a lot, and there is plenty of potential there to do more. The advise by the committee on how/whether to use generative AI in public tasks was welcomed and the first in its kind. Something we’ll return to in the next year for an update.
  • Likewise I enjoy helping Dutch government entities implement the European open data law I helped write three years ago. Here too there is plenty of potential to build my role out, with the creation of the European common data space as general context.
  • I had a small role in our work on AI ethics for the national police, but it is I think important and rewarding work.
  • Have been blogging on this site for 21 years now, and it still feels like a place I can experiment, and just do whatever, and which still creates conversations with new people.
  • E and I used Y’s school holidays and weekends for many little trips and visits. Musea, movies, cities, the beach, flying a kite, theaters, a circus, kayaking, geo-caching, restaurants. E surprised both Y and me with a visit to Nuremberg and the Playmobil Funpark in late April as an early birthday gift, which was lots of fun and giving me closure for a very disappointing attempt to visit the Playmobil factory in the late seventies when I was Y’s age.
  • Got to be there for friends. Friends got to be there for me.
  • Did some travel for work, to nearby Brussels, Portugal and to Malta, which I had never been to before. Attending and speaking at conferences, which I enjoyed.
  • Enjoyed presenting about my ‘career’ after a stint studying philosophy of science and technology at my old university. Stressing and for myself rediscovering that following my interests always yielded work activities over time, that I always have worked in roles that didn’t exist beforehand and I never applied for jobs, that there is no linearity to a ‘career path’, that the twisting path is the point, that that’s where meaning resides. And that meaning is important and emotional to me (see the training in Portugal mentioned earlier)
  • Enjoyed tinkering with some home-cooked coding. Improved my own interactive feed reader, and imported my old calendar and Amazon purchases into my notes by writing small tools. It looks like GitHub Co-pilot might make it easier for me to do more of that.
  • Got more involved in the Dutch personal knowledge management (PKM) community, helping shape a PKM conference next year, and hosting a large Obsidian-users meet-up, but doing so staying away from PKM discussions for their own sake. PKM needs to be for something, a practice working towards a purpose outside of it.
  • Read plenty of books, though less than the 1 per week on average which has been the overall rhythm these past years. Partly because some were very long, partly for reasons I don’t know.
  • Inched closer to a more deliberate reading practice for non-fiction. This is something that I have wished for for years, never really getting around obstacles in my mind and in my actions, but it now finally feels like things are shifting. By this time next year, I hope I can see the results of that.

Usually we spend the last days of the year in Switzerland visiting dear friends, this year we met them in the Netherlands in the past days, and we will see in the new year at home.

Ever onwards!