It feels almost Victorian, like in an epistolary novel by Mary Shelley or Anne Brontë, to start corresponding with a complete stranger on a subject that’s apparently close to both our hearts. I‘m eager to learn what themes you will provide and I look forward to discussing them with you. Of course, at the same time there’s a strange twist to it. We write to each other but we also know that our correspondence will be made public, and therefore one tends to — or rather, I tend to — put a better foot forward. I mean, this is not without obligation
But anyhow, we are meant to begin this correspondence with a short introduction. I don’t have to mention my name as you already know it, just like my position —head of digital at VPRO. Rather than just stating the facts I think it’s more interesting to tell you how I see myself, what I identify with most. I mean, of course I am a son, a father, a brother, a husband, a friend, a workmate — these are the parts we can all more or less see ourselves in. But what makes me different? What defines my identity most of all?
The first word that springs to mind is journalist. Although nowadays I am much more a manager, a strategist and a policy maker, my background as a journalist still shines through in everything I do. It determines what questions I ask, how I view the world and which solutions I come up with for problems I encounter. Fifteen years of editorial work — as a freelancer first and later writing for de Volkskrant (business desk and correspondent in Brussels) - does shape you for life.
At the time — we’re talking the late nineties — I was stationed in Brussels and reported on the EU, NATO and Belgium, but in my own time I got involved in the online world. The strategic implications of this technological progress were far from distinct then, but it was already evident that the internet would profoundly change our trade and society in general. In 2003 I made it my profession as well, first as head of online at de Volkskrant, from 2010 as a freelance writer. advisor and teacher and since 2014 in my present job.
How do I observe technological progress now? Not just from the strategic mission that comes with my job, but explicitly also from the impact this progress has on our culture, our coexistence, our economy, our politics, our government. I feel it is very much a key task for public broadcasters to sketch the consequences, to explain developments and to ask questions. It is from that perspective that I look at our project "We Know How You Feel". What exactly does it mean when our thoughts and feelings will be out in the open? How does that change us? As an individual, in our relationships and in our social interactions?
I hope and expect this project will bring us interesting new insights.
Head of digital VPRO