Week 205

Holding court (and having a flat white)

On Monday I gave week 2 of my course and then went on to fourcehub to prepare the maguro playtest. Which playtest took place on Tuesday and was totally awesome.

Battle Stations

I sent some talking points to Dutch politics about open data. Here they are reproduced in Dutch:

– Het parlementaire informatie aanbod
De informatievoorziening van ons parlement is om te janken zo slecht. Voor een klaagzang hierover kun je terecht bij @steeph. Stemmingen, stukken etc. zijn allemaal nauwelijks op te vragen en zeker niet machine-leesbaar op te vragen (vaak allemaal suffe PDFs).

– Overheid als platform
Al genoemd. De overheid verzamelt al heel veel informatie om haar eigen taken uit te voeren. Er is geen enkele reden dat anderen dan ook moeite zouden moeten doen om diezelfde informatie te verzamelen. Het verzamelen is ook al betaald dus het vrijgeven (van bijv. de BAG of de NDW, NDOV) móet gratis zijn. Anders kunnen zoveel mensen die potentieel waarde kunnen toevoegen bij voorbaat al niet meedoen en krijg je zeker weten wat je altijd al kreeg.

– Overheid als startup
De kosten van productie zowel online als offline zijn gigantisch gedaald. Dit zorgt ervoor dat het bouwen van een boeiende dienst met wereldwijde impact bijna niks meer kost (mits met de juiste sturing). De overheid zou dezelfde drivers die de kosten omlaag brengen en de effectiviteit en flexibiliteit moeten omarmen. Er is geen enkele reden dat een simpele overheids-site tonnen moet kosten en dan alsnog kwalitatief slecht moet zijn. In Amerika zie je met de overheidswebsites en de open data portals dat ze daar al een heel eind mee zijn.

– Datawijsheid
Bij alle besluitnemers mist diepe kennis over internet, data, wat je ermee kunt bereiken en hoe je het moet doen. Geld is niet het probleem maar kennis. We kunnen niet tot den treure de vraag beantwoorden: welke data wil je dan vrijgeven, welke voordelen zijn er dan, wat is de business case? Op een gegeven moment moet de bewustwording er zijn en moeten we uit deze catch-22 komen.

On Wednesday I gave a brief presentation on open data and the value of fake APIs on the VPRO App in a Day event.

Geo hackers extraordinaire

There was a tremendous amount of interest and presence of capable geo-hackers. That is a great victory for the open data movement. Also it is very interesting to see a traditional media company like the VPRO open up the production process of a show they are making. Definitely not standard issue in Hilversum.

Also I had an interesting experience with an automatic bike dispenser.
Dual Gate

Then we went to the kickoff for the Apps for Amsterdam contest. See also this blog by Thijs. I happen to be in the jury for that contest as the official representative of Hack de Overheid.

Apps for Amsterdam Launch Event

It was a good day for three members of Hack de Overheid to be out in full swing. There’s no telling what we’ll achieve if all six of us are firing at the same time.


Thursday was spent entirely on maguro.

At the end of the week we had a meeting at the NVJ (Dutch Reporters Association) and we finalized the program for the Hack de Overheid March 12th devcamp event.

This should be the permanent exhibition here. They're never going to top this.

The weekend was spent doing some catchup on acapulco and starting work in earnest on hermosillo.

Week 204

Drive by-ing these notes two three four days late. Yeah, these are those kind of weeks.

Gave my first lecture on data visualization at the Willem de Kooning. That was fun.

Then after I went straight to This Happened Utrecht #9.

This Happened Utrecht - Let's design

Met with the people behind IAmsterdam and updated on Statlas with Kilian Valkhof.

Going for the petit déjeuner (or the full French breakfast)

Found this permalink:
Vimeo Sharing feature

Finalized the rules for maguro and codified them.

Lunchy bunch

Spent a day at Buro Pony working on a very aesthetic affair.


After that it’s mostly a blur of hustling at maguro. Staying in at the studio ’till midnight day after day. Hard hours but good work and company. So no biggie.

Bandjesland Merlot, thanks @monobanda


Quoting Jack Schulze: “It’s brilliant to have these people around.”

Professor Scheiber in optima forma

Harder dan gisteren

And finally the version was finished and we went off boozing.

In the weekend it was mostly doing catchup on other projects. Did the briefing and wireframes for hermosillo. Updated the event page for March 12th’s Hack de Overheid.

Then closed off the day with an architectural dinner.


Touched up some stuff on Sunday and prepared my WdKA lecture of the following day.

Transmobility ARG

Heading out to the App in a Day event by Hack de Overheid and the VPRO yesterday morning, I was confronted by a rather complex series of actions I needed to do to get an OV-fiets.

Train station Maarssen is such a marginal place that the entire OV-fiets check-out/in process has been automated.

My first block was at the key locker where after holding your OV-chipcard to the RFID point below, you have to enter your OV-fiets code (which is a barcode + number on the backside) and then your PIN.

I had forgotten my PIN, so an alternative option was provided to call a number where with an automated response after entering my OV-fiets code I was read out my PIN. Having obtained the PIN, I could then get a key (video of the reverse process of returning a key to the automated locker below).


After that the next step was getting through the dual human/bicycle gate. The bike has the be placed with its wheels in the cranny.

Dual Gate

The RFID key chain has an automatic extension cord so you can touch it to the RFID point on this terminal. This terminal doubles as a payment point for people who store their own bikes in this storage area.

Access Point

Then returning a similar procedure enables you to put your key back in the locker and nicely also indicate whether the bicycle is still in good order or not after which the locker flashes red and closes.

All in all a somewhat confusing but very doable process that felt like I was participating in an Alternate Reality Game (telephone numbers, secret codes, rush etc.).

Most people using OV-fiets currently are very well intentioned, but the systems look fairly foolproof and it remains to be seen how it holds up under wider exposure.

Week 203


Made a lot of progress on Statlas during the course of the week. The domain should be live this week and we should see tangible results this month.

Maguro got updated and deployed again.

Planned the ineraction and design for acapulco and briefed designer Martijn Broekman. Finally finished those wireframes in a café in Brussels and sent them in.

Made a tentative start on hermosillo.

Mony dropped by for a crash course in Django and he promptly ported his entire Layar project TUdarover.

We setup a Github organization for Hack de Overheid to get the code conversation flowing before the event and give our code a place to live after. Also got a ton of communication things done for the event on March 12th.


I also had a meeting to draft the road map for the small minor in data visualization I will be giving at the Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam. Also I prepared the first lesson during the weekend (lesson day: Monday).


Got my review of “Zero History” by William Gibson published on de Republiek der Letteren (the Republic of Literature). I had spent quite some time writing and polishing it and I was quite pleased with having it published.

That also went into print that same Thursday, so yeah pretty cool:
@GreatDismal review in VN

I also published my review of the iPad episode “Money & Speed” of the Tegenlicht documentary I got a preview of.


The site for the Apps for Amsterdam application contest went live. Thanks to the Waag Society for putting that online so quick. We of Hack de Overheid are going to work with them to make it one hell of an open data wave this year.


I attended Mobile Monday mainly to see Ville Vesterinen present about their pervasive magic game Shadow Cities.

Mobile Monday Amsterdam

On Saturday I made a quick trip to Brussels to attend FOSDEM which I had never attended before. It was a fun chance to sit in the DataDevroom and watch presentations about open source data processing and graph visualizations. It was good to meet fabricator Rejon again too (who I had last said goodbye to in Damascus).
What I noticed though at FOSDEM was the nearly complete absence of web development and assorted technologies. Also that while you cannot go to a technology conference these days without being hit by  ethics and politics, that engagement was strangely absent at FOSDEM (except probably in the keynote by Eben Moglen).

Holy crapzor batman!


FOSDEM Data Devroom is filled to capacity #bigdata

I also registered for the Infographics congress on March 4th though I find the focus on print media and infographics archaic and distasteful. Let’s see if we can change that.


Got myself an iPhone4 because the old 3G wasn’t pulling it anymore after the countless iOS upgrades it had seen.


Also got an iPad keyboard dock from the bargain bin. Thanks Maarten den Braber for picking that up for me. Seems I have turned into that Apple completionist:
Double keyboarding

Week 202

A different format for these weeknotes:

In meetings

Met with the guys from Amstel Media and had a chat over at Sanoma Media. Met up with Ton Zijlstra after way too long and Henk Jan Bouwmeester.

LinkedIn Inmap

In work

Project Statlas made solid progress on both the renderer and the interaction framework. The map is looking pretty spanking on Polymaps, but no screenshots yet.

For Maguro I modelled the entire game in the database and made a beat scheduler using celery. Using that I created a fully playable prototype.

Real elite

In writing

Wrote about how the process of government contracting ICT projects could be made more transparent in Dutch: “Transparantie in ICT-aanbestedingen”

In events

We announced the next Hack de Overheid for March 12th. Then we started scouting locations and drafting the program for that event. It’s looking good!

I was at the VPRO launch of their iPad documentary and I got an advance copy to play with. Together with Iskander we coined the term Sensor Parkour: “in an ubicomp surveillance world, ‘sensor parkour’ could become a novel situationist exercise.”

Good gear is good

Then I went to another event about the end of the publishing industry. Funnily enough most book publishers in the Netherlands have no clue about the consequences the internet is going to have for their business.

Het einde van de uitgeverij

Friday we had impromptu drinks at @ouroffice along with an attempt to hack the OV-chipkaart which was a lot of fun and got a bunch of people to come out. Expect more of that and probably also a dataviz ignite somewhere in April.

OV-chipkaart hacking terminal

OV-chipkaart dump