New year

At the start of 2013, I wrote:

Let’s see what this year brings.

Well, it brought much the same as the year before. Here’s what I wrote about 2012:

Nothing particularly earth-shattering happened, and that’s just fine with me. I made some websites. I did some travelling. It was grand.

That’s also true of 2013.

The travelling was particularly nice. Work—specifically conference speaking—brought me to some beautiful locations: Porto, Dubrovnik, and Nürnberg to name just three. And not all of my travelling was work-related. Jessica and I went to the wonderful San Sebastián to celebrate her fortieth birthday. “I’ll take to you to any restaurant in the world for your birthday”, I said. She chose Etxebarri. Good choice.

Conference-speaking took me back to some old favourites too: Freiburg, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Amsterdam. I’m very lucky (and privileged) to have the opportunity to travel to interesting places, meet my peers, and get up on a stage to geek out to a captive audience. I enjoy the public speaking anyway, but it’s always an extra bonus when it takes me to a nice location. In fact, between you and me, that’s often the biggest criterion for me when it comes to speaking at an event …so if you want me to speak at an event you’re organising in some exotic location, give me a shout.

Mind you, two of my event highlights in 2013 didn’t involve any travelling at all: Responsive Day Out at the start of March, and dConstruct at the start of September, both of them right here in Brighton. I’m really, really pleased with how both of those events turned out. Everyone had a splendid time. I’m already starting to plan the next dConstruct: put Friday, September 5th 2014 in your calendar now. And who knows? …maybe there’ll even be a reprise of the Responsive Day Out in 2014.

Other highlights of the year include travelling to CERN for the line-mode browser dev days, and the inspiring Science Hack Day in San Francisco.

It was a big year for Clearleft. We moved into our lovely new building and hired quite a few new lovely people. So much change in such a short period of time was quite nerve-wracking, to be honest, but it’s all turning out just fine (touch wood).

Last year, I wrote:

I’m going to continue hacking away on Huffduffer and The Session whenever I can in 2013. I find those personal projects immensely rewarding.

Both projects continue to be immensely rewarding, although I probably neglected Huffduffer a bit; I definitely spent more time working on The Session. In 2014 I should really devote more time to, because I also said:

I’m also hoping to have time to do some more writing.

I suppose I did a fair amount of wordsmithing here in my journal but perhaps in 2014 I might get my teeth stuck into something more bookish again. We’ll see.

So, all in all, a perfectly fine year for me personally and professionally. Like I said, it was grand.

Looking beyond my own personal sphere, 2013 was far from grand. The worst fears of even the most paranoid conspiracy theorist turned out to be nothing compared to what we found out about GCHQ and the NSA. It would be very easy to become despondent and fatalistic about the dystopian cyberpunk reality that we found ourselves living in.

Or we can look on the bright side, like Bruce Schneier, Glenn Greenwald, and Aral are doing. Schneier points out that the crypto works (it was routed around), Greenwald points to the Pinkerian positive overall trend in human history, and Aral reminds us that we have the power to build the kind of technologies we want to see in the world.

Whatever your reaction—despair, hope, or everything in between—we all owe Edward Snowden an enormous debt for his actions. I’m not sure that I would have had his courage were I in his situation. The year—perhaps the decade—belongs to Edward Snowden.

Have you published a response to this? :