Appreciate everything, everyday, most of the time.

"The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness."
- Dalai Lama

Appreciation is at the heart of an Open Source community and the basis for living life in general. Appreciation is a motivator, a heart-warmer and the essence to connecting to other humans.

We easily take things for granted and it is our perception of what is good that sometimes needs to be calibrated. At this particular time of writing with the War on Gaza and the downing of MH17 appreciation seems far and in between. It is at times like this we neglect the small things that come to us. A smile from a passer-by, a helping hand from your neighbour or a touch on the shoulder from someone you actually do not even know.

Our own efforts are sometimes so central to the goals we need and want to achieve that someone that is not with us can only be against us. Taking a different perspective can make anyone a helping hand in achieving your goals.


Some things I have learned that can provide a different perspective and open you up to appreciation:

  • Take a break, a deep breath, a pause. it gives you calm and distance to have a look what actually is going on around you.

  • Assume best intent. People most often do their best according to their motivation, even though that might not be your motivation

  • Eat good food in small amounts. Having to digest a lot of food draws away your energy and makes you grumpy.

  • Start your day with some quiet time. Your dreams can be quite disturbing and will make you get up in a chaotic state at times. These 5 to 10 minutes can be a perfect time to plan your day. If you are on the right track yourself this will leave you with time to appreciate your surroundings.

  • Workout! Seek competition with yourself not with others.


As a community manager, working for the TYPO3 community, I do talks and presentation at events about communication, innovation. In my daily work I realise how important it is to appreciate people for what they do.

On the one hand the big size of the community makes things go unrecognized and on the other hand the bazaar nature of the community does not always align with the competitive nature of the companies that implement our content  management system for big projects that have the most important communication channel, their website, based on our software.

Everyone deserves a towel

Preparing talks, especially long ones, can be a nerve-wrecking experience, going over your notes the night before, getting little sleep and being nervous before your talk.

For last month’s Developer Days of the TYPO3 community I came up with the idea to shower the community with appreciation. I prepared 20 towels with embroidered on it “member of the TYPO3 community” with our orange project logo clearly visible.

For the opening of the Developer Days I hooked up community members that have been in the TYPO3 community for a long time already with totally new comers. Getting the new comers to the front is difficult. They are not new for nothing. With some nice words and to the point questions I was able to get ten pairs together. Their only mission was to connect and act as TYPO3 buddies and tweet pics with the hastag #t3buddies.

I feel very comfortable doing something like this. The payoff is immediately there. People connect, have fun and communicate. Isn’t that what community is about?


For the closing part of the event I came up with a similar idea, but then I made the ceremony even easier. People were just asked to give a towel to someone they appreciate. This started incredibly slow, showing how shy people are to show their appreciation. As momentum built people came up to the front of the audience in rapid succession and I was out of towels in no time.

"Everyone deserves a towel"
- Karsten Dambekalns

Then all of a sudden I heard someone in the back say: ‘Everyone deserves a towel’. I felt a bit embarrassed not having enough towels for everyone. On the other hand it also made me realise that appreciation is not a bulk thing, but something we do on an individual basis. You as an individual let someone else know you appreciate them. There is gerat power in there.

No matter in what community you are, because basically we all are in a community one way or the other, look around you and you will see a lot to be thankful for of despite shit going on around you.

On a daily basis think of something you are grateful for or thank someone you appreciate! It will make life a lot lighter.


Catching sunrays and ending up with a rainbow


TYPO3 Eastern Europe

Daniel Homorodean just invited me to TYPO3 Eastern Europe. Of course I gladly accept his kind invitation to visit this great event.

Daniel explains that this event is a little different than a TYPO3camp:

"We call "TYPO3 East Europe" a "TYPO3 event", not a camp, because in the mind of many a "camp" equals a "bar camp", which T3EE is not. T3EE is, in format, closer to a conference, but we don’t use that name either, in order not to confuse the people, as there is only one "TYPO3 Conference" in Europe, organized by the Association. So T3EE is "a TYPO3 event", which actually gives us the liberty to make a special format which in time can change, with side events and so on."

I welcome everyone in the TYPO3 community and especially from Eastern Europe itself to come and join me for T3EE. Tickets are already available on the T3EE website.

Having a TYPO3camp in Eastern Europe is of great significance to the TYPO3 community and to the whole project. While we have many TYPO3camp in Germany, which we can consider basecamp for TYPO3, we are getting increasingly more TYPO3camps outside of Germany, like for instance the international TYPO3camp in Mallorca and TYPO3camps in Poland, France and in the Netherlands.

Last year’s TYPO3camp in Romania can be characterized by a very warm and welcoming atmosphere. The amount of female developers/participants was higher then at any other TYPO3 event. The internet connection was top notch and a record four social events with the last one at the Ursus Beer Factory


What really makes this year’s event special is that it is held right at Halloween. There might be a lot of reasons to come to this TYPO3camp and party in Transylvania, but you partying on Halloween in Transylvania beats any reason. 

There are a number of cheap airlines to Cluj, Romania, which will make it even more worth coming.

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Crown of beer

Crown of beer

I miss her

I miss her


Going to CMS Africa

Strathmore University, is a leading University in Nairobi, Kenya, whose mission is to provide all-round quality education in an atmosphere of freedom and responsibility; excellence in teaching, research and scholarship; ethical and social development; and service to society. On Friday March 7 and 8 the university partners with CMS Africa to organise the CMS Africa Summit.

The event is organised to create awareness on various Open Source CMS’s. Africa businesses have concerns on how Open Source CMS’s are implemented and maintained. Delivery of websites is not adequate enough and installations are left with gaping security holes. Those vulnerablities are also a threat to e-commerce in the region. Without proper education in this field Open Source CMS’s will not gain the necessary acceptance. 

Oduor Jagero, the Lead at CMS Africa says,

It’s an opportunity for people involved in Open Source to meet experts and founders of these CMSs. It’s also an opportunity to exchange contacts, learn from each other, and take your business to the next level.

As community manager I have been travelling to a number of European countries and to the US, but this looks like a whole different ballgame to me. It is very hard to make an estimation on how to work in that area.

I see two different challenges. One how to promote, educate and to gain acceptance for TYPO3 that I represent. Of course the same values apply as we always use as TYPO3 being an Enterprise Content Management and the many high level features that make it stand out from the competition.

Another one is the challenge of spreading Open Source and the collaborative nature of how we work as communities. To maintain the conversation seems extremely important in the light of the issues mentioned earlier. Through the past years communities have become increasingly important throughout the world, partly also due to the world wide recession. I see this on a local level in the Netherlands, but our communication tools also enable us to create communities that interact on global scale.

I hope to find out how we can create this link to the African continent for our OS CMS’s and to provide our tools as a medium to communicate and interact also on an economic level enabling easy access to create virtual market places for everyone.

Tags: CMSafrica

Wisdom 2.0 2014: Eckhart Tolle Explains Who You Really Are


Eckhart Tolle, bestselling author of The Power of Now and A New Earth, gave a “meditative lecture” at Wisdom 2.0, leading us on a journey inward that enabled us to experience who we really are.

"It’s an amazing thing, this present moment," he began. "But it’s usually overlooked. When you think of the future, it can never arrive in the future. It can only arrive at the present moment." He emphasized that the present is all we have, and outlined the following process we can use to get to the experience of that present moment.

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Reach out and be inclusive

Meg Ford writes in her article on opensource.com how communication styles needs to shift in order to emphasize inclusion. Meg is a member of the GNOME community, which is quite active with their Outreach Program for Women. I attended Karen Sandler’s (Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation) session at OSCON 2013 about this topic. Also at the Community Leadership Summit the topic is prevailing.

Davis Eaves called women in open source the canary in the coal mine in an article dating back to 2009 already and explains how this isn’t just about women and how social capital drives an open source community. Being inviting and reaching out to women is one way to create diversity. Diversity is on a much broader level and is about people who think different, have a different skin colour than ours or have a different sexual orientation than ours.

Diversity happens on a meta level many communities tend to set aside as not being essential to reach their ‘goals’. That meta level is about culture and an openness to listen to others and gain other perspectives.

This year is about innovation for me. I write about it and submitted a proposal for OSCON 2014 called ‘Play To Innovate’. For me innovation start within and is all about opening your mind to the perspective of others. First innovate yourself, before innovating anytihng else. The more diverse the input you can innovate.

Lack diversity might make contributions difficult, because people do not feel welcome, everything is just to linear. There are people out there in your community that can contribute to your project. Make sure they feel welcome and included.

Creating diversity is one thing to give of that signal. Reach out and be inclusive. Shy no-one not even trolls. They might even turn into contributors.


Play To Innovate

The things you can do under pressure! Innovation is a topic that is on my mind a lot lately. Innovation not only in projects, but also in personal life and essentially that is where the journey starts. The power of letting go of conventional thinking is intriguing and can sometimes only be achieved under pressure. Not for one moment did I believe I would manage to get my head together to submit a talk for OSCON in Portland, but yet here it is.

Challenge our thinking and create a new mindset

An open and playful mind is a sound basis for innovation. Opening up the mind towards creativity is a challenge as we tend to remain trains of thought, our comfort zone. How do we define the open mind and how to reach such a state connecting our work and play together for living better and creating a better, vibrant, world while doing that?

Play To Innovate is not about colourful bubble clays, Nerf Guns, cardboards, pens, strings and so on…. Play To Innovate shows a playful understanding of life where innovation starts within and takes you to a level where innovation feels like the air we breathe.

Play To innovate takes a step into the direction of change carried by mindfulness. As a take-away you will see some of the things you learned earlier in your childhood re-confirmed.

In small steps, baby steps, this presentation shows you how to start the Play To Innovate game. Play To Innovate is about gaining clarity through sharing experiences of life, dreams, goals, thoughts, feelings, perceptions, attitudes, and actions.  It is about traveling on THE ROAD you really want to travel on to make your life and the life of the ones around you better.

The presenter will explore 5 steps that will you bring you closer to new habits and a new mindset

  1. Work without play can get boring.  Play herein refers to playfulness for creativity, innovation, and be open-minded for solutions that may not emerge from work alone. (Einstein :  doing the same thing over and over again…..expecting different results…)

  2. Open Source and Open Mind as a connection. Even though we work in Open Source that is not a guarantee for an Open Mind. Innovation CAN lead to failure and seeing failure as a basis to inspect and adapt and go to the next step is not always easy as failure is almost regarded as a criminal offence especially in Europe.

  3. Make Creative Thinking a Game. With some examples of simple games and exercises the apparent absurdity of problems can be solved by unconventional analysis not usually taken in classical problem-solving. This small step recognizes non-conformist thinking.

  4. See and Feel. You were invited to play the game, but do you experience what you  “see, feel and think”? Are your mind, body, eyes, ears supporting you? How does it feel to you and to your collaborators.

  5. Ask a child for advice. For many people if you say the word, ‘storytelling’, they presume it is for children. ‘storytelling’ offers to soothe yourself in the mindset of a child and permitting yourself to ask the questions that come along with the creative power of ‘storytelling’.

Also check out the slides of my Disrupt TYPO3 presentation on TYPO3camp Eastern Europe.