Looking back on 2020

Splash photo with the year 2020 in it

This was one crazy year! Working from home, schooling from home, reduced social contact. But also a year of immense joy as I became father again. I think I can safely say I got to know myself and my family better. Let’s see what 2021 brings…

Like 2019 and last year, I’m doing a year-review focused on the stuff I made and did. It again surprised me to see all my work in a write-up, a lot happens in a year! Although my writing productivity went down (let’s blame corona), I did loads of other stuff.

This year I wrote 11 articles, 9.852 words total (down from 20 articles with 12.427 words last year). I had 481 views and 190 reads on Medium this year (down a lot), but the views on this site went up to 4173 views, and people spent 55 seconds per page on average. Although I should add that the main goal of writing for me is to structure my thoughts, not to blast information into other people’s heads.

The main threads I’m working on are research, machine learning and experimentation/prototyping (I dropped Design Systems).

Personal life

My son was born and my daughter went to school. Two huge mileposts.

Lots of projects in the home: made the baby room, replaced the carpet with laminate on the first floor, painted walls and ceilings, improved balcony and front- and back-garden, oiled the living room floor, painted indoors and got curtains in bedroom. Pfew! 😅

Didn’t read that much, except a great book about sleep (ironically read this in a period of little or no sleep, right after the birth of my son) and a book by the daughter of Steve Jobs (“Small Fry,” by Lisa Brennan-Jobs). I also discovered Blinkist, which is sweet.

I watched cool old movies and TV-series: “Yes (prime) minister” (funny), Citizen Kane (impressive) and Metropolis (interesting).

Angi Studio

Work at Angi Studio focused solely on research this year. The main project I worked on was setting up the research-heartbeat at publisher Sdu: did loads of research (together with the Sdu-team), created an interview training and made workshops: creativity/ideation, affinity mapping and prototyping. I created KPIs for a new project and made a PowerBI dashboard to display them in.

Writing about design and research

I wrote three articles for work: why I use Whereby (or currently Teams) instead of Lookback for interviews, how agencies and freelancers talk about the Design Systems of their clients and Three key take-aways from SofaConf.

I helped people with prototyping and launched prototypingmindset.com

I (soft-)launched Prototyping Mindset (.com): a website where I offer my services to help you create a prototype in Axure. I’m hoping the website will grow out into something bigger, I’ve got plans ;)

Creative stuff of 2020

A lot of my creative work centered around machine-learning: I created a fake video with our Prime Minister in it, wrote poems with AI, dreamt up a big machine visualizing AI, and even won a competition with a video I created. My other two big projects were an easter puzzle and an art-work I made with my father.

As a random thing in between I checked which Christmas songs are Corona-proof and I published two random ideas on my ‘other blog’.

Easter puzzle

I launched a new tradition by making my first-ever Easter puzzle, keep an eye out for this year’s edition! The puzzle got about 500 views, and people spent a long time on the page. I’m hoping they had fun in trying to solve it, because I only got one solution submitted (a correct submission). Besides coming up with the puzzles and drawing them, I wrote the HTML and JavaScript myself.

Shows six images of the puzzle

Art-work at my daughter’s school

This year the big ‘end-of-school’ summer-party was cancelled due to Covid-19. As I’m in the school’s parent-council, I knew the school wanted to invite an artist to help create a big artwork together with the children as an alternative. My father is an artist and he has a lot of experience with this type of work. I asked him, he agreed, and we created the art work together: a shared artwork as a cheerful end to the school year .

My father looking at the artwork we made

AI poems

Inspired by the great people at Botnik , I decided to create my own poems with code, as a synergy between man and machine. My algorithm tries to generate grammatically correct sentences that rhyme with each other. I then combined these sentence-pairings with others to create poems out of them. Computer Poetry * ‘My tea sounds like a brick’

example poem:

*The Long Girl with the Sad Squash Rackets*

Many answers neatly echo some girls… And the long girl in those helpful teams of quicksands sadly guarantees whorls

A troubled flesh bleakly afforded a picture, But some squash racquets severely frowned a prefecture

An early crayon of the dead bucket in a shiny plant Fervently committed bad vans!

Winning the Rijswijk Talent Award with Machine Learning art

I participated in the Rijswijk Talent Award to challenge myself. As the subject of the challenge was “home”, I wanted to make a personal work – while at the same time not making it too concrete.

Long story short: I won the competition, and my work was exhibited in a pop-up expo, local shops and in the Rijswijk Museum. Proud 🤩

Machine Learning art: Dreaming of Home

A screenshot of the video I made showing the dream-sequence

1001 Ideas: keyboards and the Dinner Motivator

I’ve got a ‘sister blog’ where I publish crazy ideas. This year, just two ideas got published on my crazy ideas blog : Useless keyboards · 1001 Ideas and The Dinner Motivator · 1001 Ideas.

I also updated the visual layout and had someone from Pakistan make the frontend-code, but that’s not live yet.

Mystic Collective (a Machine Learning art work for Strijp)

The ‘Me Age’ has come to a grinding halt. But what is the future? Personal connection is lacking in a digital age; traditional collectives like the local community, church and charity are fading away. But new collectives are already lurking in the background…

I dreamt up a Galton Board type of machine to visualize how we as individuals are secretly segregated in virtual communities by machine learning algorithms, and to envision what the impact of those practices could be.

I’ll do a write-up of this on my blog one day, but for now you’ll have to make do with the PDF I sent in for the art-competition in STRIJP Eindhoven (sadly, didn’t win).

A visualization of the concept

This year

Last year I hoped to attain a relaxed attitude, which I managed (spare Corona related stress). I’m hoping to continue that, and to focus more on research and prototyping. See you next year.