This morning I went for my first booster shot. I was the first one through the door this morning and alone in my vaccination ‘street’. The person providing the vaccinations told me he was still waiting for a batch of shots, so while we waited we chatted. At some point our conversation turned to my work and hence data, and he asked about the role of data in or about patient participation. Turned out he was volunteering hours in the vaccination center, but otherwise was an advisor on improving quality of care for a group of 27 clinical hospitals. After the vaccination I had to wait ten minutes or so to ensure no adverse effects were emerging. We kept chatting, and I provided some examples and we talked about the new EU data regulations being created. In the end he invited me to connect later to provide a presentation on an event of those 27 hospitals in June, about the topics we discussed. We exchanged contqct details. A pleasant surprise to walk out of the vaccination center not just with a vaccination but also with a potential speaking engagement.
Today marks the end of my work this year. A day later than planned due to the schools closing a week early. This meant that my and E’s available work time at home was halved so we could split the time caring for Y. There are always a few things that really do need to be finished, thus carrying over into what would otherwise have been the first day off.
In my company we gave the entire team next week off, meaning we don’t expect anyone of us to work, and won’t count the days against the default 5 weeks of paid leave per year everyone has.
It’s been a challenging second pandemic year. At times each of us struggled with energy, motivation and mental wellbeing. I hope we’ve done well by our team to support them at those times. We tried to spend time together regularly and have fun within what was possible. I’ve noticed a general slow down of work in the late spring towards summer. As if the entire world was tired. After the summer things kicked back into high gear however.
Despite that slowing down before summer, which was noticeable in our turnover as well, economically it ultimately was not a challenging year. This year, like last year, we’ve done some 15% better than the pre-pandemic 2019. For 2022 much has already been lined up. I will have the pleasure to focus completely on the new wave of EU digital and data related legislation. In fact, as far as my own time is concerned, I’m already overbooked for the entire year. In short, we are looking to expand our team again.
Last month it was a decade ago that me and my business partners decided to start our open data consultancy The Green Land. To me the past three years, despite the pandemic dominating two of them, were the best of those ten, with a fun and growing team, and meaningful projects.
A well deserved break for all of us is in order therefore.
Bookmarked Een coronapas is repressief, niet progressief. (by Jaap Henk Hoepman)
Hoepman loopt op de feiten vooruit (er is nog geen akkoord voor een wetswijziging naar 2G beleid, doch poneert het als al voldongen feit), maar beschrijft adequaat de situatie, of beter De Situatie. En hoe de brandstichters het debat kapen, of beter door de andere partijen het narratief láten kapen. Wat weer een rem zet op een open debat. (Al moet ik er aan toevoegen dat ik heel wat mensen die oorspronkelijk een redelijk en beargumenteerd kritisch geluid lieten horen
heb zien opschuiven, correctie: heb zien afglijden, naar de samenzweringshoek en dat dat me ook minder genegen heeft gemaakt om anderen het voordeel van de twijfel te geven.)
Bovendien moeten we niet vergeten dat de situatie waar we nu inzitten het gevolg [is] van eerder gemaakte keuzes. Daarmee is dit pleidooi juist ook een progressief geluid. … We moeten het verzet tegen een repressief, discriminerend, en op dwang gebaseerd antwoord op een door neo-liberaal beleid veroorzaakt probleem niet door extreem rechts laten kapen! Een grote groep mensen, inclusief in eerste instantie ikzelf, voelen zich daardoor zeer bezwaard zich uit te spreken.
Jaap Henk Hoepman
In 2018 richtten we de Vereniging Open Nederland op. Die vereniging ondersteunt in Nederland het werk van Creative Commons, en vertegenwoordigt makers die hun werk op een open manier willen delen. Tot 2018 werd Creative Commons ondersteund in Nederland door Kennisland, Waag Society en het Instituut voor Informatierecht, sinds die tijd doen wij het. De vereniging stimuleert open kennis, informatie en cultuur. We hanteren daarbij de open definitie die gebruik, bewerken en delen voor alle doeleinden toestaat, hoogstens met vereisten t.a.v. naamsvermelding en het behoud van openheid ook na gebruik. Sinds de oprichting ben ik penningmeester van de Vereniging Open Nederland.
Als je vanochtend koppensnellend de krant leest zou je denken dat ik als penningmeester sinds recent een fortuin beheer. Open Nederland kreeg bijna 1 miljard euro voor het gedurende 3 maanden uitrollen van sneltests om de toegang tot evenementen en publieke locaties mogelijk te maken. De ophef is groot omdat er weinig transparantie en controle lijkt te zijn verbonden aan dat enorme bedrag.
Die opdracht en dat geld ging echter (gelukkig) niet naar de Vereniging Open Nederland, maar naar de Stichting Open Nederland. Zelfde naam, andere rechtspersoon.
Bij de Vereniging Open Nederland hebben we inmiddels al sinds de oprichting van die Stichting begin dit jaar last van de naamsverwarring die dat oproept. Vooral omdat de Stichting bijzonder weinig transparant is en geen contactgegevens publiceert.
Daardoor komen pers, bedrijven, en (soms verwarde) burgers via zoekmachines bij ons terecht. Het resultaat is veel e-mails die niet voor ons zijn, en veel telefoontjes afhandelen (meer in een dag dan normaal in een maand) om uit te leggen dat ze de verkeerde bellen. Met enige regelmaat raakt onze website overbelast, omdat een goedkoop hostingpakket grenzen aan het toegelaten verkeer stelt. Dat kost allemaal tijd en geld. Weinig geld in vergelijking met het klaarblijkelijke budget van de Stichting Open Nederland uiteraard. Maar dat is niet ons budget, want wij zijn zoals gezegd de Vereniging Open Nederland.
Met een automatisch bericht op onze telefoonlijn, en een verkeer afvangende voorpagina voor onze website beperken we de overlast enigszins. Op social media moeten we sinds de berichtgeving vanochtend ook het nodige aan uitleg geven dat @opennederland niets te maken heeft met de gelijknamige Stichting.
Uiteraard hebben we al veel eerder contact gezocht met de Stichting. De oprichter zegde toe dat de naam van de stichting niet zou worden gebruikt in de communicatie. Dat namen we maar even aan, want het was tenslotte de voormalig bevelhebber van de strijdkrachten die het zei. Die toezegging bleek niets waard (niet geheel onverwacht want het is lastig als het de naam van je rechtspersoon is, en je geen andere handelsnaam hebt geregistreerd). Vandaar dat we vorige week nog maar eens een schriftelijke poging (PDF) deden de stichting Open Nederland te vragen hun communicatie aan te passen.
Voorlopig is het dus alleen de vereniging die voor de stichting de telefoon opneemt. Om je te zeggen dat je niet bij ons moet zijn voor sneltests of hoe dat zit met dat miljard. Tenzij je een maker bent die Creative Commons wil gebruiken om je werk te verspreiden. Dan ben je van harte welkom en hebben we alle tijd voor je.
It’s the end of December. This means it is time for my annual year in review posting, the ‘Tadaa!’ list.
Ten 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!’, so this is the eleventh edition (See the 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010 editions). I tend to move on immediately 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 (a few years ago I completely forgot I organised a national level conference at the end of a project). My sense of awareness has improved in the past few years, especially since I posted week notes for the past few years. This year was different as well as the pandemic and resulting lock-downs meant a more introspective year than usual. Still it remains a good way to reflect on the past 12 months and list the things that gave me a sense of accomplishment. So, here’s this year’s Tadaa!-list, in no particular order:
- We started the year, as per our tradition, celebrating New Year with dear friends that live in Switzerland. Of course this year we can’t travel to Switzerland, and miss seeing our friends. I’m glad we did go last year. We quarantined ourselves from before Christmas, so we can visit E’s parents around NYE. We haven’t seen them since late August.
- Around the start of the first pandemic wave in March I spent a considerable amount of time pushing for still pending signatures on projects and for prompt payments on outstanding invoices. It meant my company entered the lockdown with some confidence. No projects were postponed by clients, no invoices went unpaid. It provided the team with reassurance. We did not need to apply for any economic support measures, leaving them for companies in more need.
- I’ve been working remotely for 16 years, and all of us were accustomed to working in a distributed way, but we had just opened our own office last year in Utrecht. The office served as a safe working spot for one or two people living nearby really needing to get out of the house. We distributed some office chairs to the homes of our team members early on, as we didn’t want them to sit on kitchen table chairs for week, months, a year on end. In the end, due to the many video calls, we saw more of each other and more of us at the same time, not less this year.
- Our team became much more of an actual team this year, caused by being more visible to each other. We built and depended much more on each other. Each of us struggled mentally at times, working from within the same four walls each day, but the support of the others was there to get through it. In March we let go of our just previously set company goals for 2020, and made team stability our major aim.
- Acknowledging the new reality, as well as our mental response, the team’s reflex was to step on it. With great results. Simply getting on with it resulted in our best year yet, with an 18% increase in turnover compared to 2019, despite having a policy of not setting financial goals, and also letting go of the original 2020 goals we set. There’s a lesson in that. Because we did well, we could extend E’s contract with a year in June, newly hired P in September after the completion of her internship and Master thesis with us, and offered S a fixed contract in October. We brought our colleague J on board as a shareholder and fellow entrepreneur (making him the only one we fired from the company, in January)
- Ethics,not as an abstraction, but as a practice, became a much more central element in our work concerning data, data governance, and responsible data use. I helped facilitate a great workshop with colleagues in the Amsterdam Arena early in the year, we injected ethical discussions in most of our ongoing projects, and created a data-ethics card game as a end-of-year present to clients.
- I don’t ski, E’ does only a little, but we decided to join a group of friends for their skiing trip in the French Alps in February. Enjoying the snow, simply hanging out with friends, playing with Y building snowmen, under a sunny sky was great. It also turned out to be the only trip we made this year, so the memories of that fun week have served us well.
- In May, in the midst of the first lock-down, I turned 50. E had arranged a week of spread out activities, centered around the theme ‘play’. Part of it was an evening of playing Trivial Pursuit with dear friends online, including a question card deck about my own past 50 years. Another part was a treasure hunt with another dear friend through the neighbourhood. All fun yet within social distancing and other guidelines.
- When the pandemic hit, the NGO I chair was in a much different place than my company: various projects got postponed indefinitely, others never materialised. On top of that the director decided to leave and take up a position long on her wishlist, and a key project manager left as well. It left us scrambling during the summer to ensure the organisation’s future, financial stability, find a new director and replace key people all at once. The NGO’s team and the board pulled it off together. Our board is normally very hands-off, but now we jumped into the day-to-day operations. I’m really glad our joint efforts had an impact. We found a new director and two new project leads within weeks, and all could start almost immediately. The renewed team then pulled hard on ensuring stability. This month we approved the 2021 budget, and the NGO is once more financially ok, the team is actually larger than 6 months ago, and we’re on the look-out for one more staff member. The economic support measures were essential to get through the first few months, but the organisation now no longer needs them.
- E and I have known for years we can travel very well together. Now we know we can be very well at home together too. Both of us miss not having much or any time for ourselves, especially when Y is at home during school closures, both of us miss being able to go places for inspiration. Both of us struggled at times. We’re tired and didn’t have any real off-time for 9 months. Nevertheless we managed and complemented eachother well I think. We went for walks and visited a museum or two when conditions allowed, we took care of our home and garden to help ensure our wellbeing.
- I finally dumped Facebook completely, including Whatsapp. I had left Facebook three years ago, and then created a new more low-profile account. During the first months of the pandemic I realised that both the rationalisation I had for still being on FB (some connections I had only there), and the increasing level of pandemic-inspired conspiracy-stories (don’t ever call them theories!) and related toxicity made my ongoing presence there unbearable. So I left. Because FB as a company isn’t doing anything meaningful to fix the mess of their own creation, I decided I don’t want anything to do with the company as a whole either. So WhatsApp got uninstalled as well. I don’t miss the never ending doomscrolling on manipulated timelines. I sought out more distributed conversations instead (see further down).
- Renovated my personal knowledge management (PKM) system. Making notes differently means a very different pace of learning. I wrote some 800 notions, conceptual notes representing the core of my internalised concepts of 20+ years of work. That can now serve as the base of further learning. Addtionally 100 notes geared to more fact-oriented things, which will grow from being connected to my feed reading inputs, and now that my first focus on establishing the main body of concepts is over. And several hundred immediate work related notes, helping me to get things done. Kept a day log since late April, which was helpful to see the work I did also on days the fragmentation of tasks would otherwise obscure it. All in all, my PKM didn’t change fundamentally, but I reduced the friction of sustaining it a lot. It has already paid off in various ways, and I’ll get better at wielding it in the coming months to help me create, write and work better.
- I had two periods where I struggled this year. Towards the summer, when I was struggling in getting the narrative for a report together, and in the volume of fragmented and overly diverse material I had couldn’t find my way out. And a worse period last month, where for a few weeks I felt increasingly awful. From the relentless efforts without time off, the endless video calls, and no longer being able to easily go outside as the days got greyer and wetter. In both instances I am glad I reached out to others about it, and that act alone already improved much. For the coming months I will try and keep my calendar relatively empty.
- I started my days at 6am in the spring, and kept it up after the summer until now. That first hour of the day, before Y wakes up, I use to read and write a bit. A small sliver of my own time.
- Took a very deep dive into meteorological data and earth observation / environmental data in the EU, as part of the work to write upcoming European legislation on mandatory open data releases in areas of high socio-economic value. It was a long, and at times hard, process, but I’m pleased with the results in both the thematic areas I was responsible for. If even the low end recommendations are adopted it will mean progress unheard of in about 2 decades of discussion in the meteorological field. If it moves above that low end, it will also mean a very logical but still the biggest open data step for the entire INSPIRE program.
- Enjoyed our home a lot, appreciating it even more than before. So glad we’re in the house we’re in. Allowing us to have different in- and outside spaces to use, to avoid feeling caged in. Growing and picking berries, seeing apples grow. Having our own office space to withdraw in. Y having space to leave her toys around, without it getting in the way. Little details help too, like the smooth feeling door handles we bought when we moved in. Now that I’ve grabbed many more door handles at home this year, I’m oddly thankful for them each time.
- Still happy I treated myself to a Nova2 e-ink reader, allowing me to read more non-fiction in a way that fits my routines, and have a seamless way of processing the notes I take from that reading.
- Enjoyed the distributed conversations and connections through my blog, now 18 yrs old. Conversations that cross over different topics, through different modes of communication, and different aspects of life. Thank you all who frequented my inboxes this year.
- Finally, it feels good that professionally there is enough lined up already for the better part of next year. It gives quiet confidence, and creates space to deal with the logistical and mental challenges the ongoing pandemic will still pose.
Internet retail turned from a convenience to a necessity this year. For groceries, and for DIY material, games, pencils etc to entertain Y. I bought several pieces of art as Christmas gifts, and they arrived within days from across the EU. I could support independent stores I like from behind my desk.
I’ve worked 1646 hours this year according to my timekeeping spreadsheet, which was 100 less than last year. For the first time it is on average near to my nominal 4-day work week, when counted over 52 weeks. However, in reality it was significantly more, definitely. This as when you’re at home you tend to only count the hours you’re ‘really’ working. Normally if you’re at the office or with a client, you count from arrival to departure as work time. I’ve told our team they should allow for that difference by using a multiplication factor of 1,3-1,5, but I did not really take that advice myself.
It was a year in which our lives took place in a much smaller space. Being connected, having the world at our digital disposal was good and needed. We’re healthy, doing ok, and professionally secure. That’s a lot already to be thankful about. Onwards to 2021!
A question I have is whether the pandemic will mean a slow-down or pause in tech-innovation?
Innovation in part is based on serendipity, on the pseudo-random meeting and interaction of people, ideas, skills, capital etc. Those meetings take place in cities for instance, as they are serendipity hubs.
Yet this year I noticed how online interaction tends to stick just to the topic and agenda at hand, and there’s much less place for riffing off eachother’s ideas and suggestions for instance.
Apart from innovation driven by necessity (e.g. vaccin development), would a slow-down be visible in tech start-up founding, start-up funding (maybe not yet, as funding emerges some time after founding so it might be a delayed effect)?
Would there be a discernable impact on a city level?
Are there compensating effects? I’ve noticed that the pandemic in our company and for me personnaly led to more introspection, and meant more focus on developing things, also because there was less activity around us. A reduction of movement, a reduction of social dynamics, but the stillness enabling more action as a consequence.
How would one go about trying to see such effects, and in which data?