Open Thinkering


Month: March 2022

Weeknote 12/2022

I’ve spent most of this week in the Netherlands which, I have to say, seems like the grown-up and sophisticated cousin to the awkward teenager that is the (dis-)United Kingdom. Every country has its issues, but I’m always impressed when I come over here at how things are set up to empower citizens.

To labour the point just a little, here’s a graphic shared by Andrew Curry in his excellent daily newsletter on Tuesday. A picture, as they say, paints a thousand words. And you don’t get into this situation without a decade’s absolute failure of governmental policy.

Map showing the 10 poorest areas in northern Europe. Nine of them are in the UK. 'Inner London' is the richest.

I often say that “London is a different country”. This map helps illustrate my point, as it’s the wealthiest place in northern Europe while other parts of the UK suffer. One of the reasons we have such a broken society is precisely because of the glaring wealth inequality between regions.

I shall gently dismount my hobby horse now…

After a wonderful weekend with my wife, Hannah, and dinner with Laura and her husband, I headed to Assen in the north of the Netherlands on Monday. There, on Tuesday, I was part of the first day of the Dutch National Libraries conference. The session went OK, but I wasn’t happy with the structure of it (I talk then they do a task) nor with the type of examples I was giving (too general).

The Dutch Libraries Conference in Amersfoort.

As a result, I completely overhauled my slide deck and the structure of the session for Wednesday in Eindhoven and Thursday in Amersfoort. You can see my slide deck here and the recordings should soon be available, which I shall add to my speaking page.

Amersfoort, in particular, is an absolutely lovely place. I was a walking 🤩 emoji as I wandered around, checking out the medieval town centre, including the Koppelpoort. At 150,000 people, it seems like a perfect size. I could imagine moving here if my fellow countrymen and women hadn’t voted for Brexit. (There is no emoji to express my sadness over this.)

Koppelpoort (combined land and water gate), Amersfoort

An added bonus was having dinner on Thursday night with Ton Zijlstra, his wife and daughter, as well as Jeroen de Boer (who was the one who invited me to the Netherlands. I then got a guided tour of Amersfoort from Ton on Friday, including a visit to the Mondriaanhuus.

Overall, it’s been a successful week and although I’m tired, I’m nowhere near as tired as I thought I would be. I managed to sneak in a couple of runs, as well as going to the gym at our hotel in Amsterdam. I’ve also started taking Feverfew tablets and, while I can’t absolutely prove a causal effect, I’ve had zero migraines in a week when I’d expect to have at least one.

I’ve published the following on Thought Shrapnel:

Today I’m assembling our second-ever bed in almost 19 years of marriage. It looks like it’s going to be a sunny weekend, so I may spend some of it gardening!

Next week I’m working on client projects as usual, before taking three weeks off. The week after next (which is the first week of April) I’m walking Hadrian’s Wall with Aaron. Then I’ve got a week to recover, tinker, sell things on eBay, and do a bit of DIY. The week after that, Team Belshaw is heading to Croatia on our first foreign holiday since Iceland in December 2019. I’m very much looking forward to those three weeks!

Weeknote 11/2022

I’m writing this from a hotel room in Amsterdam, on my first overseas trip in two years. This week has largely been a preparation for going away, both physically in terms of packing, but also mentally in terms of preparing myself.

I’m in the Netherlands to present at the Dutch National Library Conference next week, which is taking place in three different cities on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I’m running the same session on each day. I also gave a presentation on Open Badges for FERS in Leeuwarden on Friday. Altogether, I’m going to be away from my kids for eight days, which is the longest I’ve been away from them since 2014, I reckon.

My wife is here with me this weekend, which is great as we love Amsterdam! Another added bonus is that Laura and her husband are driving over from Dresden today to meet us for dinner. The Netherlands is in the same position of coming out of restrictions as the UK was about six weeks ago, so there’s plenty of people still wearing masks, and they’re enforced on public transport.

We had a co-op half day on Monday, in which we talked about a whole range of things. I was suffering from migraines earlier this week and at the end of last, probably in anticipation of this trip, so I decided not to go to the late-night Week 4 session for the Tethix course I’ve been doing. I’ll miss this coming Tuesday as well, so in the end I’ll only do three of the five sssions. That’s a shame, but sometimes life (and health) get in the way.

Otherwise, there’s not that much to report. I’ve been keeping myself reasonably fit, eating nice things here in Amsterdam, enjoying good hotels, and finishing off bits and pieces of work. The world is in a crazy enough state right now to do anything other than just take life as it comes.

Next week I’m travelling to Assen, Eindhoven, and Amersfoort, returning home on Friday. The week after that, I’m working as normal, and then I’m taking the first three weeks of April off work. The first of those, I’m walking Hadrian’s Wall with Aaron, the second the kids are off while Hannah’s not so I might do some DIY with them, and then the third we’re on holiday in Croatia.

Photo of a window at the Design Museum in Amsterdam.

Open Badges is now on the plateau of productivity

Image aCC BY-SA Jeremy Kemp

Today I presented on a topic I’ve been presenting on for around 11 years now: Open Badges. I must have given 200 presentations on the subject, to audiences that number fewer than 10 to the several hundreds.

Over that time, the specification has changed, as have adoption rates, which have gone through the roof. Last year, I reflected in an article for the WAO blog that good things happen slowly, bad things happen fast. It’s taken a decade, as I predicted, for badges to be a no-brainer when it comes to recognising and credentialing knowledge, skills, and dispositions.

We’re no longer in the stage of “imagine a world…” but rather “here’s what’s happening, let’s talk about how this could be useful to you”. In other words, in the language of the Gartner hype cycle (to which I allude in the above post), we’re in the stage of ‘plateau of productivity’.

I recorded this Loom video to ensure I had the timing right for the 45 minute slot I’ve got. While I’m pretty good with timing, I use a lot of slides, and it’s been a couple of years since I presented in person!

I’ll also be throwing in a couple if interactive bits, so I need to ensure I don’t get stuck in the weeds with the inevitable questions about Blockchain / web3. My plan, as you can see in the recording below, is to point to v3.0 of the specification and talk about why decentralised identifiers (DiDs) are more exciting than blockchain, which I consider a back office technology.

So, without further ado, here’s a run-through of my presentation for FERS.

Next week I’ve been asked to speak at Het Nationale Bibliotheekcongres (the Dutch National Library conference) which is taking place in Assen, Eindhoven, and Amersfoort. I’ll be running a session fusing my badges work with digital literacies stuff in the service of discussing digital citizenship. Given than I’m only supposed to be talking for 15-20 mins before participants have 25-30 mins to do something, it’s going to be tight…