Visiting Berlin’s Weizenbaum Institute

So, my trips for doing science in the past few years have mostly been to the far east, such as South Korea, Japan and Indonesia. Today, my travels bring me to the near east: after eight years I have arrived in Berlin, Germany again, only 600 kilometers from home. Today, I start my short fellowship at the Weizenbaum Institute, on invitation by Ulrike Klinger.

It’s nice to spend a few weeks in Berlin, not like on vacation but as a temporary resident. I arrived on Friday, exploring the city by bike on Saturday, and on Sunday jogging in Grunewald. And it’s good to brush up my German language skills (it’s been a while since I watched Rappelkiste or Tatort)

My main activity here in Berlin will be to teach PhD students the intricate ways of R and RStudio. I’m looking forward to do it. I already met a few people who’ll participate.

In the mean time, I am revising the course, redoing all the slides using Markdown in R. This course will also be the backbone of the new Radboud Summer Course in 2019 about data science. More on early 2019 on this blog.

But, besides doing some science, I also enjoy visiting museums such as the Technology Museum. Visit it, but take your time: it’s LARGE.

Presentation held at hunting lodge St. Hubertus

Yesterday, I took a ride to De Hoge Veuwe Park, more specifically jachtslot St. Hubertus (Hunting lodge St. Hubertus, formerly owned by the couple Kröller-Müller). Although I’ve seen the building before – park De Hoge Veluwe is an amazing park to hike – I’ve never been inside the building before. Designed by famous architect Berlage, it’s a beautiful building.

Lake At Park De Hoge Veluwe
Lake At Park De Hoge Veluwe

The reason for being there was being invited to talk about media and democracy. The group of invitees for the discussion consisted of people from politics, business and science. My talk specifically was about the tone on social media during the 2017 lower house campaign. We started at 17:30 and it ended at 23:00, and have very insightful discussions over an excellent dinner.
I won’t go into details any further, for two reasons. First, the presentation will find its way in a publication some time in the future. Also, the meeting was held under the Chatham House Rule, which states that …

When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.

This is an interested format, allowing participants to express their opinions freely.
This is one of the reasons I really like my job: It brings you to exciting places and in contact with interesting people.
So, again, if you are in the neighborhood of the Park de Hoge Veluwe, any season, go visit it.

Political leadership and social media, conference at Banff, Canada

“Really Maurice” (this is me talking to myself), “the first time in Canada?” I just returned to Calgary after a couple of days in beautiful Banff in Canada. Be sure not to miss it when you’re in Canada. I was in Banff on invitation by Professor Richard Davis and Professor David Taras for the meeting on Political Leadership and Social Media. There was a nice group of colleagues from Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Germany and Switzerland. It’s really nice to meet such a fine group of people in such a nice surroundings.

The Canadians themselves are extremely nice people. Always making jokes and in for a laugh. Imagine entering Canada at the airport, the passport control official specifically requesting me to get Donald Trump to the conference and stop his Twitter rants. Then half way the conversation, he started talking Dutch, being the son of Dutch immigrants (probably after WOII in search for a better life). A real unique experience. A similar experience happened on the way to Calgary: a woman next to me in the shuttle bus turned out to be Dutch as well, having immigrated to Canada over a decade ago. The Dutch seem to be everywhere: Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Canada, the Caribbean, and I’m sure I’ve left out other countries.

Anyhow, a big thank you to Richard and David. Looking forward to continue the collaboration.

And now back to work … OK OK just a brief look at some pictures then 🙂