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2008: Personal Reflections

There’s an apocryphal Chinese proverb and curse that says, “May you live in interesting times.” It means:

May you experience much upheaval and trouble in your life. The clear implication being that ‘uninteresting times’, of peace and tranquility, are more life-enhancing.

Well, these are certainly interesting times, whether we look to the turmoil of the financial markets, the conflicts erupting around the globe, or even more narrowly to the developments in the microcosm of technology.

It has certainly been an eventful year for me personally, but on the whole I don’t feel the upheaval as a curse. I certainly am not ending 2008 the way I came into it, and that is the whole point of living.

The biggest changes have been on the personal front. I lost my father this year, a memory that is especially poignant on New Year’s Eve, which was our family’s sacrosanct holiday. Tonight I will think of him as we commemorate the New Year with a paella, a tradition I inherit.

But, as Anais Nin tells us in “Ragtime“, “nothing is lost but it changes.” My daughter Lily snuck into this world a few weeks before 2008, but it’s this year that she’s had her first opportunities to explore it, and her joy and excitement are wonderfully contagious.

Of course, the other big change is that you are reading this post. While Manu is right that I used to think of blogging as exhibitionist diary publication (and he kept the evidence), I finally came around to embracing social media. Jeff deserves the credit for getting me to start blogging. As for Twitter, I think my first update says it all.

And here I am today, preaching “When In Doubt, Make It Public” and evangelizing social media.

What’s in store for 2009? I am humbled enough by this year’s surprises to not attempt to make predictions. Besides, as Niels Bohr said, “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.”

But at least I can express a few intentions:

  • To encourage my daughter’s intellectual curiosity at every turn.
  • To continue raising people’s expectations about information seeking technology and striving to meet those expectations though my work at Endeca.
  • To explore approaches to information access that do not depend so heavily on an adversarial model.

I wish everyone a Happy New Year! You have no choice but to live in interesting times. May they be interesting for you personally, in the best sense of the word.

By Daniel Tunkelang

High-Class Consultant.

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