I liked Ton’s format of review for his year and had been considering writing something. Here’s a list of the course of events in a rough chronological order covering the gamut of personal, family and work life.

- In January Michel Bauwens, Chris Pinchen, Franco Iacomella, yours truly and a few others decided to set up a cooperative, to grow businesses around the fringe of the non-profit knowledge communities and commons of the P2P Foundation. Paperwork was cleared and projects did come in throughout the year. That said, we had considerable growing pains, with Michel’s insane speaking schedule(4 times a year zig-zagging from thailand across Europe to South or North America and then back again), all coop members separated by continents (South American, Asia, Europe, N.America) and noticed that face to face communication had a large impact on teams. That said, Chris and I did well with starting Chokepoint which you will see further down this list.

- In Febraury, i visited Berlin to support Juha who represented VURB at Cognitive Cities. It was also wonderful to meet friends like Alper, Kars and Alex along with seeing Ton give yet another a great talk.

- During the same month i tried out playing some Starcraft 2 as RTS games are rather wonderful. It was a weird transition from old LAN gaming into gaming where to play a game you can only do by being logged into your account for the game in question online. Obviously this is a way to secure payment, but LAN was more robust and flexible for players stopping things like games needing to be restarted if internet connections were lost or latency going through the roof. The big change was witnessing audience participation via live streaming and the casting and replays posted on YouTube channels. Check out what i mean over at Twitch.TV. In Feb i was a total noob, while in December, watching a game of Hero vs Puma has become a new staple relaxation medium, beyond picking up a book or staring at wildlife and seeing friends.

- February was also the 2nd edition of Quantified Self Amsterdam at Mediamatic. I presented “CVS for the Self” alongside 5 other speakers. 80 people showed up.

- Late February, early March a group of researchers from the P2P Foundation started a NextNet workgroup focusing initially on mesh networks, resilience and various strategies on how to not let corporate or government powers coopt the network. The ongoing Arab Spring uprising had recently taken everyone by shock in January and added an extra sense of urgency around these issues. Mubarak had turned off the Internet and Senator Liberman was contemplating a ‘kill switch’ in the US. As a response and together with a new collegue and now friend, Chris Pinchen, we conceived and launched a new effort working on human rights issues over the Internet, focusing on monitoring the entire Internet to detect abuses. The Chokepoint Project’s support and response since that time has been unprecedented, from articles in New Scientist to being shipped halfway round the world to Rio de Janeiro to show what we have been working on. The work is mainly concerns building an early warning system to detect corporate or government restrictions, attacks across the Internet for journalists, activists, researchers, governments and citizens caught in the middle of natural disasters. The other half of the project is focused on teaching digital network literacy through tangible workshops (we wrap people in string and put funny labelled clothing on them in the process as one part of a modular kit for teaching). We’re focused on kids and reaching the political classes, who managed to fail on many occasions in 2011 if you see all the ant-copyright legislation in the pipeline and SOPA. Sadly i would not surprised if SOPA passes which will be a sad day for freedom of speech.

Video of ARS Prize (in Deutch)

(Beside this slightly odd presentation where it seems Chris and I are pitched as baby Julian Assange’s, 2011 was also a record year for getting dubbed into German!)

- In March i moved house from a run down apartment in Amsterdam Oost to Westelijke Ijlanden. Having a view over the water from your balcony and living on yet another peaceful street, although this time in the city center is a luxury which will not be wasted. The rent is stupidly affordable.

- I spent considerable time earlier in the year helping Hack de Overheid, an organization we co-founded grow. Early in the year i organized a workshop for the Dutch BBC, VPRO for working on their recently aired TV series and web platform, ‘Nederland van Boven‘. We organized numerous hackathons.

- In June and August, Chris and I went on tour with Ruben and Gustaf, new team members of the Chokepoint team to Chaos Communication Camp near Berlin and to Linz for Ars Electronica as we had won the next idea category award. We met so many amazing people which took the project forward. Throughout the year we were in Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Linz, Utrecht and Rio de Janeiro.

- Quantified Self Europe took place. Having founded the Amsterdam QS group, the Europe event was a massive step up from servicing 70-90 people for 4 hours on a Monday evening to leading a 2 day event with 350 people, bringing QS-ers from the United States, the core team over and attracting lots of new faces from across Europe.

- Lots of client work throughout the year included doing strategy, UX and IA work for campaigns and many mobile and tablet apps for Ice Mobile, INDG, VGZ, Strawberry Frog. This was spread out throughout the year. The most fun of these projects was being able to do some service design for a early-stage sleep monitoring product that uses radar to track movement and breathing.

- In October, i started playing squash.

- In December Hack De Overheid and Het Nieuwe Stemmen commenced fusion, preparing the ground for a new organization in 2012. Prepare for a more formal public announcement in the coming months.

- Dominique and I visited my mother and step-father in Arizona, where it was warm in direct sunlight over Christmas. They live in North Phoenix. Apart from the harsh jet-lag, we ate too much great food, shared stories and were happy to be able to be together as this happens only once every 1-2 years given the distances. Also was able to spend some hours exploring Skyrim which is probably the most beautiful RPG i’ve ever had the chance to play. At the same time team members of the Chokepoint Project were presenting and meeting people at 28C3 ‘Behind Enemy Lines’ in Berlin.

One Response to “What a year, 2011”

  1. Ton Zijlstra Says:

    Cool James! Quite a list of good stuff! Here’s to continuing the adventure in 2012 ;)

Leave a Reply