So long Digipolis

As the year is nearing it’s end, so is my time with Digipolis.

I had an amazing time here and made friends for life. It sounds like something everyone would say, but I actually can. Working for a city is different. It has it’s very specific set of problems and challenges, but in the end you’re trying to make a better city. Believe it or not, most of the people I worked with actually had this in mind. It should be included in the oath you take (something, I think, every employee related to the city should swear by).

It started out with joining a group of people who were looking to change everything web-related. Small projects like a website for city translators but also bigger challenges like Kotweb and the new A-Kaart platform. After a couple of years, the big one came, no doubt one of the defining projects in my career.
One would think that would’ve been my Mount Everest at this firm, but afterwards I had the honour (and pleasure) to assist Tom in building the UX competence within Digipolis and Jasper with the birth of a front-end framework, Tink.

As Homer said (and Arto on Facebook a couple of months ago when he jumped): the terrifying lows, the dizzying highs, the creamy middles, … we had it all. I’ll miss you guys but I’ll be keeping a close eye on everything happening in “my” city.

So I went to the doctor…

Running Sucks
picture by Alain Limoges on Flickr 

I started writing this post in Dutch. I guess this English is going to take some getting used to.

Today I visited an orthopaedist (had to look that one up ;-)). He came highly recommended by several people in my family and they can know. My genes predict a very bad future when it comes to knees, and this guy is a knee specialist. 

I was scared, I guess. When people asked me about it I answered I’d be grateful if it didn’t come to surgery. But that’s a lie. Even if he tells me that I can’t run the 10 Miles in April I’ll be devastated. When I started running in September to prepare for a 5K run two months later, I had no hopes except running that race. But as I progressed a small spark of hope settled inside of me: what if I can run the 10 Miles in Antwerp? As someone who weighed almost 100kg, this sounded insane, but when I ran my first 10K at the end of 2014 that spark had become a roaring fire. I enlisted in several runs (5K in a santa suit, 7K at Francorchamps, an Urban Trail of 12k here in Antwerp) and started seeing the future. Dreams were becoming very tangible.

Three weeks ago I went for a run in a nearby park. It has a perfect 10K parcours. Halfway I had to stop because of pains on shins and knees. I decided to take two weeks off. But the first run after that made me stop after 3K. That’s when I decided to visit the doctor.

The good news is I don’t need surgery or anything, my knees don’t seem to be the problem. His take: Shin splints, which is quite common. Although he’s not ruling out a stress fracture. He told me to take 6 weeks off and try a (small) run after that. If that goes well, I should be able to start building my distance up again. If I feel any pain however, it might be a stress fracture which means I’m out for another 3 months, at least. Besides that he told me to visit a foot specialist to see whether my shoes need any further modifications since he thinks I’ve been fairly careful and had the pain nevertheless.

But bottom line is that I won’t be running any of the runs I had planned. The 6 weeks out mean I miss both the 7 and 12K runs and after that I have to start from 0 again. There is no way I can build up towards the 10 Miles in a safe way.

Half a year, 3 times a week.
All for nothing.
That sucks.
Big time.

Reboot

With all the news about the death of blogging due to Andrew Sullivan saying goodbye, it seems fit for me to… start blogging again. Not that the news had anything to do with the decision, it’s just a silly coincidence.

A couple of things will be different from before though. First of all, as you probably noticed, I’m trying this in english. Reason will become clear in a moment.

The blog will have an added focus. I used to be all web and life, and that probably will remain key topics. But my experience working for a city has given me an extra subject. At the City of Antwerp we’ve been putting a lot of effort in building a digital layer over the physical one. The last two years were dedicated to what has become a foundation for a fundamental shift in how a city like Antwerp might operate, communicate and evolve. Until recently this appeared to be a dream of a small group of people, but a couple of weeks ago I was at the Connected Smart Cities conference in Brussels and something became very clear to me: this shift, this search is happening everywhere. And it’s events like these and organisations like the ones present that will help make this happen. We’ve been working hard on something we very much needed in our own city, but it’s time to move beyond that.

So expect more posts about what I’m currently doing at Digipolis and what I’m exploring beyond the scope of the city I live in. And for that, I need to expand my horizon as far as possible, hence the english from now on.