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.

Bookmarked Commission opens non-compliance investigations against Alphabet, Apple and Meta under the Digital Markets Act (by European Commission)

With the large horizontal legal framework for the single digital market and the single market for data mostly in force and applicable, the EC is initiating first actions. This announcement focuses on app store aspects, on steering (third parties being able to provide users with other paths of paying for services than e.g. Apple’s app store), on (un-)installing any app and freedom to change settings, as well as providers preferencing own services above those of others. Five investigations for suspected non-compliance involving Google (Alphabet), Apple, and Meta (Facebook) have been announced. Amazon and Microsoft are also being investigated in order to clarify aspects that may lead to suspicions of non-compliance.

The investigation into Facebook is about their ‘pay or consent’ model, which is Facebook’s latest attempt to circumvent their GDPR obligations that consent should be freely given. It was clear that their move, even if it allows them to steer clear of GDPR (which is still very uncertain), it would create issues under the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

In the same press release the EC announces that Facebook Messenger is getting a 6 month extension of the period in which to comply with interoperability demands.

The Commission suspects that the measures put in place by these gatekeepers fall short of effective compliance of their obligations under the DMA. … The Commission has also adopted five retention orders addressed to Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta, and Microsoft, asking them to retain documents which might be used to assess their compliance with the DMA obligations, so as to preserve available evidence and ensure effective enforcement.

European Commission

A who’s who in current personal knowledge management and tools for thought convened in Utrecht, where I was at the PKM Summit the past two days. It was loads of fun, I learned new things, and the atmosphere was great with participants from a dozen countries.
I’m a pkm practitioner, not usually given to missionary work around it, nor part of the various business models around it. I do like discussing practices and tools with others though, especially in the context of learning and agency (rather than mainly about focused productivity). And that is what I got at PKM Summit. It was my kind of conference. Where speakers were just regular participants and everybody interacted with everyone else. Where everyone of the 150 participants just geeked-out on each other’s pkm practices. Whether you’d been doing it for decades or days. There was also plenty space in the schedule for people to suggest additional sessions, an opportunity that was well used. Also by the invited speakers, who did sessions together too.

That it worked out that way wasn’t entirely a surprise to me, because I had volunteered in the run-up to help bring in speakers and curate the program with the hope of it having that effect.
That for instance Harold Jarche, Nicole van der Hoeven, Chris Aldrich, Beth McClelland and Zsolt Viczián were part of the program was a result of that. And some organisational aspects I had suggested to the organising team based on my Reboot and Open Space experiences (as participant and organiser respectively) also were adopted.
That Nick Milo would be there in person, as would David Allen of Getting Things Done fame were pleasant surprises I learned of in the days before the event.
The informal setting of Seats2Meet, the high quality of the catering, and above all the enthusiasm of the all-volunteer team (some of whom also took the opportunity to do a spontaneous session on the program), brought it all together. The meet-up that Nick Milo hosted in the evening of the first day at the Green House was fun to chat with a wide variety of people including some who weren’t at the conference.

I’m happy four of my colleagues came along and had an equally good time.

A next edition was announced for 14 and 15 March 2025. It might be hard to top the synergy and novelty of this edition though. Also because what caused surprisal and excitement this time, might become expected and the subconscious baseline next time.
Still there were plenty of people that I reached out to who couldn’t make it this time, and hopefully can be there next time. Like Beat Döbeli, Bianca Pereira and Bob Doto.
The way to pull it off once more I think lies in the strength(ening) of community. To keep building and deepening the connections made, to nudge and have space for self-organisation, and keep putting mutual learning and exploration first.

A big thank you to Lykle, Kim and Martijn, and the many volunteers around them for two great days.

Bookmarked Timeline of some of the intellectual history of pkm by Chris Aldrich

Today was the first day of the European PKM Summit in the Netherlands. With all the momentum around novel digital tools for thought, I thought it important to also create room for a discussion of the deep history of most of the methods that we are re-implementing in our current crop of tools. Especially since large groups assume there is no such history. At best in tech the origin of PKM like stuff is pinpointed to Vannevar Bush’s Memex. Whereas tagging, commonplacing, index cards all have their centuries or even millennia of history. Chris Aldrich has researched that history in great detail. And as Chris and I know each other through our IndieWeb efforts I reached out to involve him in this personal knowledge management conference.

Here’s a version of the timeline of some of the intellectual history I presented today at the PKM Summit in Utrecht.

Chris Aldrich

LinkedIn irritatingly has introduced a new ‘pay us or we’ll purposefully cripple your experience more than before’ scheme. Another step towards the inevitable leaving behind of LinkedIn, other than perhaps for search. How long until they get to the Ecademy-point of no return (which was in 2004, enshittification is not a recent ‘innovation’)?

Events take preparation w.r.t. who you’ll meet as well as ‘after care’ one element of which is to affirm conversations and connections started at the event. Yesterday morning an event around digital ethics committees in the public sector took place, of which I was the instigator though not the organiser. I talked to many new people, taking notes of my conversations, and afterwards did what I usually do: invite those I met to connect on LinkedIn. LinkedIn for a long time has suggested to add a note because it will help the other person know better who is reaching out and why. Just as they used to stress you need to only connect to people you met. I always use that feature because it also conserves the context of a meeting for myself (although I keep those in my notes these days too). The note allows you to be human, passing the Reverse Turing test, or helpfully shows someone up as a cold sales approach. It suggested that this time too:

In the past weeks I noticed that there was a counter attached to that suggestion, ‘you have x personalised invites left’. Yesterday’s event being one where I met more than a few new people, I exceeded the limit of 5 invites for this month (The webarchive shows the limit and premium feature wasn’t mentioned at the end of January).

Paying gets you past that limit towards unlimited.
Out of curiosity I clicked the ‘renew’ button (at some point in the past I used the free trial period to be able to see and download some specific data that LinkedIn had about me, hence ‘renew’).
The following question curiously did not have ‘no interest’ as an option, ‘no’ being folded into ‘other’.

Selecting ‘other’ led to an overview of types of subscriptions, conspicuously not mentioning any prices.

Another click further revealed the lowest price point being 40 Euro’s a month.

40 Euros buys me a month of 1Gb glass fiber internet and television at home. It buys me 7 months of reduced railroad fares in the Netherlands. About a month of reading fiction daily. A year of digital services and tools I actually care about. And the removal of a newly introduced barrier in a deteriorating platform to extract value, aiming to make you pay to allow you to behave like a human being on LinkedIn. I’ll pass up on the ‘opportunity’ offered.

I have been interested in personal knowledge management (pkm) for a very long time. I have been an avid notes maker ever since I learned to write. Digital tools from the late 1980s onwards have been extremely useful. And a source of nerdy fascination, I confess. I am certain personal knowledge management (pkm) is of tremendous value for anyone who wants to keep learning and make sense of the world around them.

On March 22 and 23 the European PKM Summit is taking place in Utrecht, Netherlands. I have helped invite speakers and workshop hosts for this event. I am donating a ticket for a student in the Netherlands to attend this two day event.

Are you a student in the Netherlands with a strong interest in personal knowledge management (pkm)?
Is your interest in pkm to strengthen your personal learning and deepen your interests, rather than increasing (perceived) productivity?
Would you like to go to the PKM Summit on 22nd and 23 of March in Utrecht, but as a student can’t afford the 200 Euro ticket price?

Then I have one (1) conference ticket available! Let me know who you are and what fascinates you in pkm or attracts you to the event. If there are several people interested I will choose one. I will donate the ticket by March 8, so state your interest before then.

The single condition is that you attend the event on both days and participate actively. There is a session on the program that may be of interest, focused on pkm for students and teachers for learning and research contexts. It would be great if you would share some of your impressions of the event afterwards, especially if that is something you’d normally do anyway.

Interested? Email or DM me (in Dutch or English)!