Bye 16, hi 17.

by Dries De Roeck on January 6, 2017

Another year, time for the sixth (!) instalment of the Bye Hi post (1615, 14, 13, 12). After re-reading last year’s post, I came to realise that the sensation of finding more focus in my work has probably been a catalyst for starting to think and dream about future ‘escape routes’. Professionally, I feel that I created a lot of ‘invisible content’ last year which will keep me busy to chew on and make sense of in the coming months. There’s quite some PhD work in the pipeline, which I really want to focus on before diving into other things.

When it comes to my personal life, 2016 was mostly about re-rooting. I only realise this, because I have spent the last two weeks at home. Moments like these make me even more aware of how disposable the concept of ‘work’ is. Spending time at home brings peace to my mind, and allow me to rediscover what makes my brain tick. Family wise, after a very intense foster parenting adventure at the beginning of the year, we decided to take a break from foster parenting between February and August. This period of time allowed us to recohere, before we dove into a new foster parenting chapter in October.

Over the past months, my wife finally managed to imprint the sentence “take responsibility for your own feelings” in my brain. This has helped to put everything into perspective better.

2016, the year in which I thought I would:

Work more focussed. Set up partnerships with people I enjoy working with.

Yes! I got a lot out of the Thingscon and Fri3d Camp network the past year. Altough that the inevitable question always is ‘where do we find a budget’, I’m happy to find quite a pile of potential collaboration plans on the table. I know that only a fraction of these will ever make it, perhaps not even with a clear relation to my ‘work’ – but I’m starting to discover where I want to head towards in a few years from now. As usual, I need to be wary to actually finish the ongoing work first – before moving to something else.

Close my facebook account

Aw yes, this has been interesting. For starters, there is no way that I’m ever going back. I find myself spending so much more time discovering other things (probably a lot of useless things too) instead of reflecting too much on how yesterday looked like.

Revive my Little Printer

Not so successful. I really liked what my good friends at put together to make this process go smoother. I never actually managed to look into it too deeply, mostly because I read quite some stories about hardware getting bricked – which is not what I was after. I’m currently quite happy with opening my cupboard and finding little printer there smiling at me … forever.

Co-organise Fri3d Camp

This happened, for real. I invested quite a lot of spare time in this, which I do not regret at all. Working towards a weekend of hacking and making with 300 people turned out to be very rewarding. But, I need to be honest here, in the last few weeks organising the camp was taking a lot from me – it was absolutely worth it, but I very much underestimated the ‘regular’ project work kickback afterwards. A next camp is planned in 2018, since this is the year that I should be finishing my PhD work – I think I will need to throttle down my involvement in the organisation. For great justice.

Organise a new humans & things event

Yes, but not as I intended/wanted to. I did co-organise two thingscon satellite events, one as part of the IoT Ghent meetup on Blockchain and humans and another as part of DareFest where privacy and ethics were in the spotlight. Both events were linked to trying out the ‘question the obvious’ initiative by Rob Van Kranenburg, Tom Collins and myself. While I think we’re still on to something there, it needs more crystallisation. Luckily we covered up for our own experiments with two excellent speakers on both events. I was very happy to have Jef Cavens (Blockchain hero) and Rob Heyman (IoT privacy hero) on stage.

Run PhD related workshops in London and Rotterdam

This was my greatest achievement of 2016 I think. I traded Rotterdam for Amsterdam, and added Berlin to the list. These sessions allowed me to gather 15 design processes linked to IoT products, which are starting to form the core data behind my ongoing PhD research. Together with Koen Van Turnhout, I’m currently in the process of writing a first academic publication based on this data, which I currently regard as one of the fundamental pilars which whill eventually lead up to finishing my PhD.

Go skiing with my daughters

Yes! A major succes. However, we collectively decided to skip skiing this year. We’ll still head to the mountains, but will do so in summer. I am, nevertheless, looking forward to our next skiing trip, which will most likely happen in 2018.

Finish a project that has been catching too much dust

Yes! Although I only managed to get going on looking at this backlog from October onwards. I would have liked to work more on the next version of my meaningful Christmas deco, but that again didn’t work out. I did take some serious steps in finishing my Vertex build, finally put together a mechanical keyboard and assembled some other hardware kits. I still find myself struggling with the code part of things, I seem to have been able to lay some kind of foundation-of-coding for myself, but it is very hard to keep improving based on the way I’m teaching myself now. This tends to lead up to frustration before even starting a code-based project.

2017, the year in which I will:

  • Get back to academic publishing, and showing that I’m still in the PhD game.
  • Set up at least one new research project at work.
  • Host and run more experimental events (thingscon comedy, jams,..)
  • Finish and open source the schematics for CNC millable chicken pen.
  • Clean up and organise my DiY attic.
  • Have some kind of digitally controllable front door.
  • Reboot our vegetable garden.
  • Make more physical family picture books.
  • Question the format of this hi, bye post.


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