In two months, on Saturday May 12th, I will turn 42. All of you towel carrying readers of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, will be aware that 42 is the precise Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.

So at this crucial age, I will simply have to throw a big party. You, and your family, are therefore kindly invited, to

The BBQ at the End of the Universe

(or Enschede as it is more commonly known).

The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything
In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, although the answer is known to be 42, it remains unclear what that Ultimate Question is. We and some of you who were at Reboot 7 in Copenhagen seven years ago, have a pretty good notion of how to phrase that question, however. In the easier to understand words of a dear friend, “it’s the path you journey on that matters more than the destination”. It’s the path we travel that allows us to make sense of things.

The question to which the answer is 42

Share part of our path
Our path will take Elmine and me to walk up a French mountain to help raise funding for cancer research, in June. See my blog posting for the reasons behind this.

My birthday party is therefore also meant to raise funds for the good cause. In place of birthday gifts, I am asking you to donate something towards our effort for cancer research, sharing part of our path that way. Either by donating on my action page (if you have a Dutch bank account), or by donating to my PayPal account (which I will then transfer to my action page in your name), or by putting something in the donation box at the party itself. (Next to donations, you or your company can also hire us, and we’ll donate your payment to cancer research)

Bring books that matter, find books that matter more
Elmine and I own a lot of books. Some still get taken of the shelf regularly, and will remain with us for some time more. Other books have given us their meaning and worth, and are ready to move on to a new owner, which might well be you! Likewise you probably have books that are ready to leave you and find another mind to fill with their ideas and stories. It’s not the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy alone that can serve as a guide to the galaxy after all. 😉

During our BBQ at the End of the Universe we will also hold a book market. We’ll offer our books up for sale, and you are invited to also bring books you want to find a new host for. At the same time you are welcome to browse all the books on offer, and take those that appeal to you back home. All proceeds will go to the good cause.

Ever been to a BBQ that’s also a book market?

In summary
It would be great if you would join us for my 42nd birthday party! Bring your family and your kids (we’ll have room for kids to play)! Please do RSVP (per e-mail) so we know how much people to cater for (and remember, when it comes to good food and drinks, I take BBQ parties very seriously).

It will be a day of celebration and fun, in the company of good old friends and new interesting people for you to meet. On top of that you have the opportunity to contribute to a good cause, as well as return home with new great stories to read.

Should you need a place to stay, here’s a list of options. We also have two rooms on offer (especially if you’re on a tight travel budget).

I am looking forward to welcoming you on May 12th!

Where, when, what time:
Ton & Elmine’s in Enschede
Saturday 12 May 2012, from 14:00 until the last guest leaves.
Please RSVP via e-mail!


Last year we used my birthday on May 12th to invite people from both our different on-line and off-line circles of friends and bring them together for a BBQ. We thought that worked out great!

This year Elmine turns 30 next week on August 30th. We have taken that as an opportunity to invite a broad selection from our friends and family. Just like last year, but bigger and better. To make a longer trip more attractive this year the BBQ will be accompanied by a 1-day conference on August 29th.

The BBQ will be about good food, but what will the conference be about? Both Elmine and I work in a networked world. Not only in terms of technology (though technology is a very visible aspect), but in terms of skills, attitudes, work forms, organisational forms and who our peers are (or our fellow global villagers as Gerrit Eicker put it in my last post). Though we often like to create models and use abstract terms to describe these changes, we think how these changes affect our day to day lives and work is often shared and shown too little. For the conference we would like to put those concrete changes in your and our own lives, little and big, in the spotlight. The format depends a bit on what the participants want, but will probably be a mixture of what usually happens at a BlogWalk and a BarCamp.

We welcome you to Twente University for the (un)conference day (photo by WJ Maaskant)

We therefore would like to invite you to share your stories on:
– what the driving forces are in your work;
– what you struggle with;
– what projects/things you’re working on;
– how you connect with other people and sustain these connections;
– what type of organisations, teams, settings you work in;
– how you take charge of your own life
– how you balance work and private life, or if that distinction still exists
– how your life has changed, or not, in the past years
– what your typical day looks like.
– how you create value for yourself in what you do

Or whatever story you would like to share to make what we often discuss in abstract terms more tangible.

On August 29th, some 25 of our friends and peers will come to the University Campus here in Enschede to learn, share and inspire. But this being the end of August means lots of you could not make it, due to vacationing. Nevertheless we would like to invite you to contribute to the event by sharing your stories with us on the topics mentioned above. Via e-mail, in your own blog (as Bev Trayner already did here, here and here), in the comments here, or on any other platform you think appropiate. Elmine and I would love to hear your stories!

Want to attend after all? Or come to the BBQ on August 30th? Well, sure you can! Send me an e-mail that you would like to attend. And read more info on what’s planned for next week in Elmine’s wiki.

We welcome you to our house for a BBQ party