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!

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.

Starting in 2010 I have posted an annual ‘Tadaa’ list, a list of things that made me feel I had accomplished something.
This is the first time in 11 years I did not feel like making this list. This second pandemic year was again a year where our lives had a small and local scope mostly, where most days just carried over into the next. Additionally as I’ve been keeping day logs since April 2020, and have been posting week notes for three years now, maybe there’s less of an internal need of looking back annually, as unlike a decade ago I’ve been doing it weekly and daily for myself as well. Mostly I think it’s the pandemic, where nothing much happens during a year of staying home almost exclusively. As E mentioned this week, you miss out on so much coincidental inspiration, ideas and associative thoughts that you’d normally get from just being out in the world.
Yet, maybe that means I really should be making the effort of writing the annual list. So here goes, in no particular order.

  • Made sure that Y got to fully enjoy playing in the snow, and skating on the ice, for the few days in February that both were possible. Important memories to make with her.
  • E and I made it work well at home, despite irregular school closures, a quarantine, and having Covid breach our household. I appreciated our house a lot, allowing us space as it does to both have our own home office, being able to sit in the garden under the apple tree or at the water’s edge watching the swans, ducks and coots. We complemented each other well, and E even completed a half year training program on data and AI on top of all of it.
  • Went away when we could, e.g. to Zeeland over the easter weekend, enjoyed some lunches in town, visited a few museums.
  • We spent two weeks in Copenhagen in the summer in a beautiful house we rented. Cycling through the city, just hanging out, meeting up with friends and having a nice place to return to or stay at and relax for a day was a great break. I am very glad that I booked the rental early in the spring, when it wasn’t at all clear that it would be even possible to travel across inner-EU borders. Just the act of having booked it was valuable as it put something on the horizon a few months out.
  • A week in Versailles and Paris at the end of summer was an unplanned but huge pleasure. We enjoyed camping out in a forest area on the edge of Versailles, while having Paris within 30 mins by train and the railway station a 10 minute walk away. We got to be outside a lot, played around with Y in the camp ground’s swimming pool, while also exploring Paris (which Y loved), taking in (a small section of) the Louvre, and having lunch and coffee any place we liked. Paris wasn’t very busy, but not empty either, the perfect setting to roam as we pleased in a city that was lively enough to feel its pulse. It was a very energising week, and the best spur of the moment decision we made this year.
  • Volunteered to speak at the FOSS4G Netherlands conference this fall, that fell in the brief period where such events could take place face to face.
  • My company had a good year, again well above the pre-pandemic 2019. Our team I think grew tighter, and we managed to have a lot of fun despite the pandemic measures taking a mental toll on all of us at times. That financially things went well helped as stabilising factor, reducing uncertainty in uncertain times. Renting cabins in a holiday park in June, so we could work together for a week while each having our own cabin, is something to do during regular years as well. Last month it was a decade ago that we started our company, and in fact I feel these past years, despite the pandemic, were the best ones as a group and for me personally had most meaning.
  • I got to work this year on a topic that I really enjoy, learning to work with and within the coming EU digital and data legal framework. The work evolved from a study I did last year, advising the European Commission on the planned open data obligations for EU countries. This important wave of 6 pieces of legislation is the biggest influence on data governance in Europe since the original PSI Directive and INSPIRE Directive 10-15 years ago. It goes much deeper and is much wider in scope than what came before though. There’s a renewed elan, and I feel the type of energy that my work 10 years ago generated around European open data efforts. This new wave will be key to any data work for at least five years, if not for the rest of the decade.
  • For next year, I’ve already signed a contract with a client to keep track of those European developments, help Dutch dataholders and users to leverage their potential, and build bridges to initiatives elsewhere in Europe. It provides me with even more time to do that, which allows me to organise it more as a program of continuous work, not like one project out of several. I hope and intend to use this opportunity to help drive the momentum from this new batch of data legislation in 2022.
  • I’ve been writing my blog here for 19 years now. Again this year it was an important instrument in having and generating conversations with a wide variety of people. In these stay at home times having a way of connecting to people all over the world is very valuable, and doing it all from my own domain is a source of agency. Thank you to all I had the opportunity to interact with this year, to all who dropped by in my inbox.
  • Last year I started making a notes system (in Obsidian) having revamped my personal KM system. Last year I made some 800 conceptual notes mostly gleaned form existing blogposts and presentations I wrote the past 20 years. That number hasn’t grown very fast this year, to a 1050 plus about 200 more factual notes. Together with an ideas collection, and book notes they make some 1650 notes, or about a third of the total number of 5000 notes in my PKM system. Other notes are work related notes, day logs and an annotated library of things that caught my eye this year. I am happy it felt effortless to keep the note making going this year, even if I feel I had too little time to actually sit down and think and write, growing the conceptual part of it all. I’ve also done little non-fiction reading, an annual complaint I have though it was more than in previous years. Such reading provides input that could let my notes grow. Having dusted off my PKM system last year has really helped me this year in keeping track of my work, and being able to keep building on little things I started earlier and then had to leave alone for a while. What pleases me no end, in terms of reducing friction and the sense of ‘magic’ that I got it to work, I now run two client websites, where I publish information for them directly from my notes collection. It allows me to work in my own notes on my own laptop, and in the background GitHub ensures that those notes get published as a website.
  • I’m what is called the ‘programming equivalent of a home cook. Making small adaptations to my laptop’s working environment, and little pieces of code to help me do some tasks is gratifying (if sometimes frustrating during the process of creation), and let’s me incrementally reduce friction in my workflows. This year I enjoyed rummaging around the back-end of my feed reader, and experimenting with what I call federated bookshelves, and a few other small things. The federated bookshelves stuff will be a topic of discussion and, I hope, making during a tentatively planned online IndieWeb meet-up in February on distributed libraries.

In terms of work hours, I mostly worked about 3 days per week in the first six months, using the rest to balance the logistics of a household in times of pandemic and find some space for myself. The rest of the year I worked more or less fulltime.
As we’ve been home mostly I had ample time to read, just over 70 books, of which a handful non-fiction. Fiction reading is something I worked into my day well in the past years (at least 30 mins before sleeping, an easy to arrange habit). The non-fiction reading is still something I want to find a working flow and rhythm for (and have been for years). It requires making time in a way that is less easy (reading, noting, thinking) than it is for fiction. On the plus side, the non-fiction I did read I also much more actively made notes on.

We will spend some days around New Year in Switzerland, visiting dear friends. A tradition we couldn’t adhere to last year, but can do this year (if we test negative before leaving).

Ever onwards! (After having the first week of January off that is)

A pink piece of cake with chocolate curl on golden paper
2021 wasn’t a piece of cake, but like the one pictured despite its imperfections and cracks still held beauty. I enjoyed this raspberry and chocolate confection towards the end of a joyful day with E and Y in Tivolo Gardens in Copenhagen last August.

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.

  • Jamming into the new year 2020 in the Swiss Alps

  • 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.

  • In a distanced line at the bakery, when it was still novel. Showing new cycling skills to grandma on video.

  • 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 the snow in the French Alps, in the Ajax Amsterdam Arena for data ethics

  • 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.

  • Video conference Trivial Pursuit. We had the board, every participant their own card deck to ask questions from.

  • 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.

  • At the Kröller-Müller museum

  • 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.

  • Enjoying our downstairs terrace at the water. Many walks through our neighbourhood.

  • 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).

  • Desinfection is the new sexy. Socially distanced cycling traffic light waiting zone

  • 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.

  • A long September weekend hiking in the hills of Limburg, southern Netherlands

  • 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.

  • A visit to the Amersfoort Kade Museum, and to the Frisian Museum in Leeuwarden

  • 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!

Take care, stay well, reach out. Happy 2021!

It’s the end of December, and we’re about to enjoy the company of dear friends to bring in the new year, as is our usual tradition. This means it is time for my annual year in review posting, the ‘Tadaa!’ list.

Nine 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 tenth edition (See the 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010 editions). I am usually moving forwards 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 18 months. 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:

  • Visiting Open Knowledge Belgium to present the open data impact measurement framework I developed as part of an assignment for the UNDP in 2018. The way I accommodate in it for different levels of maturity on both the provision and demand side of open data and look at both lead and lag indicators, allows the entire framework to be a sensor: you should see the impact of actions propagate through indicators on subsequent levels. This allows you to look backwards and forwards with the framework, providing a sense of direction and speed as well as of current status. I’m currently deploying those notions with a client organisation for more balanced and ethical measurement and data collection.
  • When my project portfolio stabilised on a few bigger things, not a range of smaller things, I felt restless at first (there should be more chaos around me!), but I slowly recognised it as an opportunity to read, learn, and do more of the stuff on my endless backlog
  • Those few bigger things allow me to more deeply understand client organisations I do them in, and see more of my work and input evolve into results within an organisation. The clients involved seem to be very happy with the results so far, and I actually heard and accepted their positive feedback. Normally I’d dismiss such compliments.
  • Found a more stable footing for my company and in working/balancing with the other partners. We now are in a much better place than last year. Organisationally, as a team, and financially
  • We opened up offices in Utrecht for my company, meaning we now have space available to host people and events. We used some of that new opportunity, organising a few meet-ups, an unconference and hosting the Open Nederland general assembly meeting, but it is something I’d like to do more of. Set a rhythm in making our offices a hub in our network more.

  • Got to be there for friends, and friends got to be there for me. Thank you.
  • Visited Peter, Catherine and Oliver on PEI for the Crafting {:} a Life unconference. The importance of spending time together in unhurried conversations can’t be overestimated.

  • Gave a keynote at Coder Dojo NL conference. It turned out to be a more human and less abstract version of my Networked Agency keynote at SOTN in 2018. Helping me to better phrase my own thoughts on how technology, agency and being human interplays.
  • Organised 2 IndieWebCamps with Frank Meeuwsen, basically bringing the IndieWeb to the Netherlands. I enjoyed working with Frank, after having been out of touch for a while. Meeting over dinner at Ewout’s early last year, blogging about independent web technology, Elmine’s birthday unconference and visiting an IndieWebCamp in Germany together all in 2018, reconnected us, leading to organising two successful events in both Utrecht and Amsterdam, putting two new cities on the IndieWeb map.

  • Kept up the blogging (for the 17th year), making my site(s) even more central to the way I process and share info by doing things like syndicating to Twitter and Mastodon from my site, and not treating Twitter as a place where I write original content.
  • Enjoying every day still how much more central in the country we now live, how so many more things are now within easy reach. Events I can visit in the evening in Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam or The Hague, without the need to book a hotel, because I can be back home within an hour. How it allows us to let Y experience she’s part of a wider family, because it’s now so much easier to spend time with E’s brothers and cousins and my sisters. How comfortable our house is, and how I enjoy spending time and working in our garden.
  • Celebrated the 50th birthday of a dear friend. We all go back at least 25 years, from when we were all at university, and room mates in various constellations. M said she felt privileged to have all of us around the table that night, that all of us responded to her invitation. She’s right, and all of us realised it, it is a privilege. The combination of making the effort to hang out together, and doing that consistently over many years creates value and depth and a sense of connectedness by itself. Regardless of what happened and happens to any of us, that always stands.
  • Finally attended Techfestival, for its third edition, having had to decline the invitations to the previous two. Was there to get inspired, take the pulse of the European tech scene, and as part of the Copenhagen 150 helped created the Techpledge. Participating in that process gave me a few insights into my own role and motivations in the development and use of technology.
  • Getting into an operational rhythm with the new director and me in my role as the chairman of the Open State Foundation. Working in that role opened up my mind again to notions about openness and good governance that I lost track of a bit focussing on the commercial work I do in this area with my company. It rekindles the activist side of me more again.
  • Working with my Open NL colleagues, yet another angle of open content, seen from the licensing perspective. Enjoyed giving a presentation on Creative Commons in Leeuwarden as part of the Open Access Week events organised by the local public and higher education libraries in that city.
  • Visited some conferences without having an active contribution to the program. It felt like a luxury to just dip in and out of sessions and talks on a whim.
  • Finding a bit more mental space and time to dive deeper into some topics. Such as ethics with regard to data collection and usage, information hygiene & security, AI and distributed technologies
  • Worked in Belgium, Denmark, Canada and Germany, which together amounts to the smallest amount of yearly travel I have done in this last decade. Travel is a habit Bryan said to me a few years back, and it’s true. I felt the withdrawal symptoms this year. I missed travel, I need it, and as a result especially enjoyed my trips to both Denmark and Canada. In the coming year there should be an opportunity to work in SE Asia again, and I’m on the lookout for more activities across the EU member states.
  • Presented in Germany, in German for this first time since years. Again something I’d like to do more of, although I find it difficult to create opportunities to work there. The event opened my eyes to the totally different level of digitisation in Germany. There’s a world to gain there, and there should be opportunities in contributing to that.
  • Hosted an unconference at the Saxion University of Applied Sciences in Enschede, in celebration of the 15th anniversary of the industrial design department. Its head, Karin van Beurden asked me to do this as she had experienced our birthday unconferences and thought it a great way to celebrate something in a way that is intellectually challenging and has a bite to it. This year saw a rise in unconferences I organised, facilitated or attended (7), and I find there’s an entire post-BarCamp generation completely unfamiliar with the concept. Fully intend to do more of this next year, as part of the community efforts of my company. We did one on our office roof top this year, but I really want this to become a series
  • Spent a lot of time (every Friday) with Y, and (on weekends) with the three of us. Y is at an age where her action radius is growing, and the type of activities we can undertake have more substance to them. I love how her observational skills and mind work, and the types of questions she is now asking.
  • Taking opportunities to visit exhibits when they arise. Allowing myself the 60 or so minutes to explore. Like when I visited the Chihuly exhibit in Groningen when I was in the city for an appointment and happened to walk past the museum.

This post is not about it, but I have tangible notions about what I want to do and focus on in the coming months, more than I had a year ago. Part of that is what I learned from the things above that gave me a sense of accomplishment. Part of that is the realisation E and I need to better stimulate and reinforce each others professional activities. That is a good thing too.

In 2019 I worked 1756 hours, which is about 36 hours per week worked. This is above my actual 4 day work week, and I still aim to reduce it further, but it’s stable compared to 2016-2018, which is a good thing. Especially considering it was well over 2400 in 2011 and higher before.

I read 48 books, less than one a week, but including a handful of non-fiction, and nicely evenly spread out over the year, not in bursts. I did not succeed in reading significantly more non-fiction, although I did buy quite a number of books. So there’s a significant stack waiting for me. Just as there is a range of fiction works still waiting for my attention. I don’t think I need to buy more books in the coming 4 months or 6 even, but I will have to learn to keep the bed side lamp on longer as I have a surprising number of paper books waiting for me after years of e-books only.

We’ll see off the year in the company of dear friends in the Swiss mountainside, and return early 2020. Onwards!

It’s the end of December, and we’re about to enjoy the company of dear friends to bring in the new year. This means it is time for my annual year in review posting, the ‘Tadaa!’ list.

Eight 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!’. (See the 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010 editions). I am always moving forwards 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. Although I have worked on improving that sense of awareness over the past few years, it remains a good way to reflect on the past 12 months. So, here’s this year’s Tadaa!-list:

  • The Smart Stuff That Matters unconference and bbq party in honour of Elmine’s 40th birthday was an awesome event bringing together so many great people from our various contexts. Thank you to all who were there, from right next door to halfway across the globe, and so many different places in between. It is a great privilege you came together in our home.
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    So much fun having you all at STM18! Of course we had the mythical German sausages again….
    Through the Eyes of the Artist
    Peter made a sketch of our house, sitting in the garden
  • Being witness and officiating at our dear friends’ Klaas and Amarens wedding in Tuscany.

    Dinner al fresco / Thirty years of friendship (images by Elmine)
  • Presenting Networked Agency during a keynote at State of the Net in Trieste. A great opportunity to create a better narrative to explain Networked Agency, and present it to a much wider audience. Also great to see Paolo and Monica, as well as many others again.
    sotn2018 Sotn 18
    Our friend Paolo opening State of the Net, enjoying the beautiful city of Trieste
  • Working in Serbia, Italy, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium.
  • Creating a measurement framework for open data impact, that allows for different levels of maturity, embraces complexity, and aims to prevent gaming of measurements.
  • Getting tremendous feedback by the funder of a client project last year, that it was the most exciting thing they funded.
  • Getting asked back by multiple clients
  • Joining the board of Open Nederland, the Dutch Creative Commons chapter as treasurer
  • Joining the board of Open State Foundation, the leading Dutch advocate for open government, as its chairman, after having been one of the initiators of the very first event in 2008, that later turned into this great organisation
  • Taking the time to just hang out with other geeks at IndieWebCamp in Nürnberg
  • I spent every Friday at home to be with our daughter. A joy to watch her develop.
  • Giving the opening key-note at FOSS4GNL. I especially enjoyed writing the narrative for it, which ties local data governance to geopolitics and ethics.

    the Dutch open source geo community, and during the keynote (images Steven Ottens)
  • Got to be there for friends, and friends got to be there for me. Thank you.
  • Sponsoring the Open Knowledge Belgium conference with my company The Green Land, and participating in the conference with our entire team, and providing two sessions.
  • Finding my voice back in blogging. I’ve written more blogposts this year than the preceding eleven combined, and as much as the first 5 years of busiest blogging combined. As a result I’ve also written much more in-depth material than any other year since I started in 2002. This has created more space for reflection and exploration, useful to shape my ideas and direction in my work. It was inspiring to renew the distributed conversations with other bloggers. As a result I am revisiting much of my writing about information strategies and the workings of human digital networks.
  • Working with a client to further detail and document both Networked Agency and the ‘impact through connection’ project we based on it.
  • Making day trips with Elmine and (not always) Y, e.g. to BredaPhoto, Eddo Hartmann and Fries Museum. Making good use of our more central location.
  • Started to make better use of the various spaces our house offers, like the garden, the attic studio, and my own room. Room for improvement in the next year though.
  • Avoiding feeling hurried, while keeping up the level of results.

All in all it was a rather unhurried year, with more time for reflection about next and future steps. I worked 1728 hours, which averages out to about 36,5 per week worked. This is not yet getting closer to the 4 day work weeks I actually have, compared to last year, but at least stable.
I’ve read 69 books, at a steady pace. All fiction, except for a handful. I’m looking to create the space to start reading more non-fiction. That likely requires a separate approach.

Elmine gave me an amazing sculpture for my birthday, called “Strange Bird Totem”. The artist Jacqueline Schäfer’s work is described as “showing a positive vibe for life in a complex modern society“. That sort of feels like a great motto for the next year. Ever onwards!