Beers at Stagioni

As can be read in this thread we are holding the next Open Beer Delft at our coworking office next to the Delft Central train station: Studio 4 Stagioni.

After some months of silence we heard some signals from the community that a new iteration of the event might be appreciated. A lot of stuff has happened, people and projects are moving on and catching up while drinking a beer could be a nice way to spend part of a Friday

So announcing the next iteration of Open Beer Delft, the VrijMiBo for
entrepeneurial and freelance Delft. Beers on us at our office Studio 4 Stagioni
Friday November 14th, 17:00 – 19:00
Hooikade 2, Delft

Come one, come all and invite those that may not be aware of this
event. A quick reply to confirm, so we know how many people to
expect, would be appreciated.

Hope to see you guys here, for a chat and a beer.

Our digital senses

In some of Adam Greenfield’s backpages “Whatever happened to serendipity?” he recounts how he used to scrounge for punk rock records and how the difficulty and uncertainty of the experience was part of what made it worthwhile:

But at the risk of sounding like an old man, this ritual – make no mistake, that’s what it was – invested the purchase with meaning and value for me, and I despair at a world that doesn’t at least offer the possibility of similar adventures to its inhabitants.

This resounds simply with the fact that things that are worth doing are oftentimes difficult to do or to learn and things that are worth having are the ones you invested effort in getting.

Just to narrow this down to music, 99% of the music I listen to has no meaning whatsoever to me. This has no bearing on the quality of contemporary music, which I think is actually quite high. Only a couple of albums and artists have managed to strike a chord with me that makes their music merit a repeat listen.

This may be different for others but the real investment of Fl. 45,– or so back then was quite significant, distribution channels were few and the diversity they offered near zero, you got your recommendations either from mass media or from word of mouth. The experience was radically different.

Yes, something has been lost in the transition but the abundance we have gained in return makes it more than worthwhile for me.

But the piece is about the loss of serendipity and shortly after he writes:

Yes, I suppose you could always switch the thing off, leave it behind, deliberately “forget” it. But when you’ve lived your entire life through the intercession of a mobile and benevolent Delphi, is that realistically an option? I suppose we’ll find out.

Having spent two and a half weeks in the United States most of which in and around San Francisco. I can testify that it is indeed not an option.

San Francisco is so well mapped within most online services that the experience you have there using the internet is unparalleled. Most services originate there which results in San Francisco being completely mapped in Google Maps, well covered in Yelp and there are ample Twinkling Twitter users in the proximity.

Unfortunately for a visiting European like myself it is prohibitively expensive to use roaming data, meaning that most of the time my iPhone was a multimedia brick. Being disconnected like this, made me acutely aware of how reliant I have become on the real and virtual compass my iPhone provides. Walking around without a continuous stream of data coming in on the iPhone felt as if a sense was missing.

What is a sense other than a mapping of external information to a part of your brain? The services on my iPhone provide me with a sense of presence and sense of direction within my spheres of contacts. My brain is conditioned to receive regular updates to this sense and withholding those updates used to be called something like “withdrawal from information addiction” but since this is a sense we’re talking about, I think “sensory deprivation” may be better suited. Without this sixth sense so much of your peripheral ‘vision’ is cut off that you feel like you are wandering around half blind.

Tax on knowledge

I called with the taxman yesterday to clarify some stuff. I had surmised that profesionally relevant books could be deducted as expenses. Now it seems there is a very fine distinction.

Profesionally relevant books which are being used to remain up to date in a given field of knowledge are deductable. Books which you are using to deepen and widen your knowledge however are study books and these as such are not deductable.

This is of course pure semantics and it can never be proved that you are using books either way, so given an audit just be sure never to mention the word “study” and you’ll be fine.

And to think our government is trying to create a knowledge economy.


Freshly one day back in from San Francisco some adjustments need to be made. The time difference has been reduced from 9 hours to 8 thanks to our splendidly European invention: DST. Along with the time difference there is also a slight difference in daylight and a large difference in temperature (15º centigrade) and precipitation (nearly non-stop rain the past day).

Last view

Adjusting to the superficials will be easy enough, but as after every big trip and after having seem some truly splendid natural and metropolitan vistas, adjusting the mind to a realignment of the world brought about by new experience will be somewhat more difficult.

hAvatar reprise on FOWA

Funny to hear from Cristiano that David Recordon just flashed Four Starters on stage (slide 37 of this presentation) on FOWA in London to demo the concept of hAvatar, a WordPress plugin I developed about half a year ago. And a strange bit of anti-serendipity this stuff happening in London while I’m in SF.

The concept of the plugin is very simple. There are a ton of avatar standards out there the most widely used of whom is gravatar. Gravatar uses an e-mail hash and was acquired by WordPress. There are some others which rely on a <link> in the head of the page or some other convoluted agreed upon standard.

hAvatar does it by following somebody’s profile URL that they leave at a comment and seeing if there’s an hCard on that URL. If there is an hCard there, hAvatar retrieves the linked image representation and displays that. The approach is decentral and uses existing standards and conventions so I thought it interesting enough to build. If there’s interest I can check out the source code and make it run on the latest WordPress and see if there are any bugs that need fixing.

Interesting talk about blowing up the social network and there’s even more possible than what he’s describing, seeing as hAvatar is half a year old. The stuff Open-CI can do with remote profiles and avatars is further along but still rather poorly documented. And I’m missing a big part of the stack which is necessary for notification (mostly XMPP).

P.S. Four Starters is unofficially defunct. Most of our attentions have slipped back to our personal weblogs. We’re looking for a good way to preserve the content there and save it from the spammers.

Uprising tomorrow

Tomorrow I’m going to attend Students for Free Culture. I may not be a student anymore, but I still regularly ride with that crowd and the conference has a great program and is for anybody with an interest in the topic. So, getting up early and taking the BART down into Berkeley. I’ll see if I can use my newly bought Kodak to record a couple of keynotes.

If you’re in the Netherlands, there’s an event along a lot of the same lines called Volksopstand2008(lit.: uprising) where a group of people will gather in the Hague to protest the attrition of privacy by our government and other institutions. I recommend you go, though I’m a bit late in doing so

San Francisco

I’ve always wanted to go there and tomorrow I’m finally going. Some vague plans, tads of serendipity and friends pushing me over the edge were enough to have me book the ticket, I think, only three weeks ago. Tomorrow Lufthansa will take me over an ocean for the first time of my life.

Halfway during the trip there’s a four day capoeira event celebrating Mestre Acordeon‘s fiftieth year of teaching capoeira with a Brazilian festival in Berkeley on Saturday. I’ll also try to get some surfing in and see if I can visit the local tech hubs and meet some people, so it’s not purely a holiday.

If this wasn’t enough to stress me out, today my laptop decided to not boot anymore. So I spent most of the day panicing and restoring a backup, after which everything seems to work again but no clue for how long. Maybe I should try to sneak a new Macbook past customs on my way back.

Take care, I’ll be back the 27th.