20s in Review

I left home aged 18 to study for a BSc in Web Technology at the University of Lincoln (UK) because that was what I liked to do for fun. I didn't have much of a plan or a goal, and haven't ever since. I spent my twenties with one thing leading to another, not trying to steer myself in any particular direction. I don't think I ever had an image of what life would be like when I reached 30. I am privileged and fortunate to be where I am.

In the last decade, I graduated from university 3 times, with a BSc(Hons) Web Technology, MSc by Research Interdisciplinary Creative Practices, and PhD in Informatics. I studied at the University of Lincoln, the University of Edinburgh and MIT. I won some awards and prizes that don't mean anything. I helped to start two companies that didn't really go anywhere. I worked at Google and the BBC; in media & comms at the University of Lincoln Students' Union; tutored for Edinburgh School of Informatics and Edinburgh College of Art; got my dream job working on web standards with Tim Berners-Lee at MIT and W3C; freelanced until my PhD took over; spent time in a kitchen at a vegan cafe in Malaysia; worked with investigative journalists in Bosnia; joined a co-operative to work on open data for public good.

I taught myself Python, sufficiently that people paid me to write it. I learned to cook and bake, and then all over again without eggs and dairy. I learned some sign language, and forgot it. I learned to knit, and forgot that too, and to crochet, which stuck. I stopped swimming, and took up running and yoga. I sucked up my fear of public speaking to cope with conference presentations, but never found a way to enjoy it. I discovered Vipassana meditation. I fell in and out of love. I started writing five novels and have finished none of them. I volunteered with reuse initiatives like Freegle and the SHRUB. I mentored kids learning to code, and set up a club for them in Edinburgh. I ran university societies like Lincoln CompSoc and Edinburgh SocieTea; organised and helped out with conferences and hackathons; coordinated events and meetups. I published some academic papers; contributed to open source projects; co-edited W3C Recommendations.

I haven't been sick or had any major injuries. I neither found nor lost religion. Nobody close to me has died, gone missing, or been imprisoned. I didn't gain or lose any large sums of money or assets. I owned neither property nor land. I didn't become fluent in any new languages. I haven't learned how to grow vegetables, or figured out how to consistently keep plants alive.

I feel like I have been several different people over the last decade. My values and principles have evolved. I used to want to change the world; now I want to leave no trace. I went from being infatuated with the tech industry, to despising it. I went from a wide-eyed naive Google intern to an opponent of surveillance capitalism and advocate for decentralised social media. I stopped obsessively writing paper journals, went through a social media oversharing phase, then started logging all kinds of stuff on my own website. I went from hating coffee to loving it (via a drinking it sweet and milky phase). For a while I enjoyed and was very good at being in charge, organising, coordinating things, running the show. Now I prefer to be behind the scenes or watching from the sidelines, invisible, unknown. I met several people who changed the course of my life in very discernible ways, and countless others who influenced and moved me more subtly. I committed to only buying secondhand material things (2010), became vegan (2014) and swore off flying (2018). I adopted a homeless parrot (2010), who moved to Scotland with me (2011), then was left in the care of other people when I moved to the US (2015). I dreaded my hair and shaved it all off. I went from being afraid to travel, to jetting around the world for academic conferences, to giving away everything and living out of a backpack for 4 years (and counting). I went from loving winter to needing the sun. I went from deep attachment to places and things to shedding it all and itching to keep moving. I overcommitted, overachieved, multitasked, got involved in everything; burnt out, and built myself back up focussing on one thing at a time, expecting nothing, promising nothing. I learnt to love to be alone.

All around me, the world has changed, and stayed the same. Everywhere I have travelled, things are samesame but different.

I have nothing profound to say. Who and where will I be in another ten years? It doesn't matter.

Since travelling is at the forefront of my mind, and what I have the most comprehensive records of, I made some charts about it. Maybe in ten years, I'll make charts about different things.

New countries by year

From August 10 2009 to August 10 2020. Colour scheme is by continent, you can figure that out.

2009

🗺

2010

🗺

🗺

🗺

2011

🗺

🗺

🗺

🗺

🗺

2012

2013

🗺

🗺

🗺

🗺

2014

🗺

🗺

2015

🗺

🗺

🗺

🗺

2016

🗺

🗺

🗺

🗺

2017

🗺

🗺

🗺

🗺

2018

🗺

🗺

🗺

🗺

🗺

🗺

🗺

🗺

🗺

🗺

🗺

🗺

🗺

2019

🗺

🗺

🗺

🗺

🗺

🗺

🗺

2020

Flights per year

From August 10 2009 to August 10 2020.

Icons of the exact same colour are part of the same trip. Shades of blue are work/conferences; shades of red and orange are leisure; shades of purples are work and leisure combined; shades of green are specifically to visit family or friends or to fulfil social obligations.

(Holy crap I flew a lot. The first flight in the chart, on the first day of my 20th year in 2009, was the first flight of my life, so this represents all 106 flights I've ever taken. I'd never have guessed that number if you'd asked me to estimate.)

2009

🛪

🛪

2010

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

2011

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

2012

🛪

🛪

🛪

2013

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

2014

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

2015

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

2016

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

2017

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

2018

2019

🛪

🛪

🛪

🛪

2020

🛪

🏷 quantified self logs week in review life travel

Post created with https://apps.rhiaro.co.uk/no-ceremonies-are-necessary