Year in Review 2019
“Instructions for living a life.
Tell about it.”
― Mary Oliver
2019 went past so quickly. I moved on in someways, moved backwards in others. There was work I would have liked to achieve and life I would have liked to live, but I think I’m starting to find vocabulary for both.
Or: I’m not very young anymore.
Or: there were more things I distinctly feel like I chose, including wallpapers, reading routines and people I spend time with.
Or: from little things, big things grow.
Here’s 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014. And here is 2019:
- Everything resets at New Year the Japanese believe. Started the year in Tokyo with champagne and R, A & P. Took a train to Hiroshima, Gunma and Kyoto. Played endless Uno, visited three kindergartens designed by Youji no Shiro (hoping I can work with them someday!) and the Teamlab Borderless exhibition. Fell in love with House of Ghibli. So much yakiniku and one izakaya that disappeared into the night like a myth. いちごいちえ.
- Los Angeles for a few days with E & R, moving pieces, feeling invincible, running the Runyon Canyon and hanging out by the Hotel Roosevelt.
- Celebrated A’s Super Mario themed birthday, had blinis on a cold day at M & V’s and went skiing with a taxi. Saw Three Sisters in Kansallisteatteri.
- Workwise spent time thinking about Hive and learning about foundations and impact measurement. Wrote a column about Teenage Girls that spread far and wide. People on the street came to say thank you. Ruby turned 5 years on January 23rd, but was too busy to really celebrate.
- Read on the history of computers (the Dyson family kept reappearing throughout the year), obsessed over the embroided computer, anime computers and Alan Kay.
- Miyazakiworld by Susan J. Napier. Returned to this a few times throughout the year.
- Circe by Madeline Miller.
- Saw Max Richter’s Vivaldi Recomposed played with baroque instruments with M which was probably the most touching art piece I saw all year.
- Hung out a lot with friends: went to Sweden with M & A, saw a theater play with R, M, P and A. A new, feisty goddaughter was born. Watched Princess Mononoke and Kiki’s Delivery Service with P. Did a few lab checkups. Tried to tie loose relationship ends with close ones. Still quite sad for the entire month.
- The best Valentine’s date at Tove Jansson’s ateljee and could have spent days looking through Tove’s books (Brecht, Bergman and Dahl among others!). Was delighted by How Bibliophiles Flirt — needed a bit of romantic assurance from the universe.
- Started keeping a page-a-day journal, writing first thing in the morning and felt great about it. Thought about modern day collectibles. Guillermo Del Toro was my favorite new Twitter follow. Novels with giant, possibly magical libraries.
- Was on the cover of Cosmopolitan! Worked on the Love Letters script and curriculum which was the big thing for the year. Tried a ton of things that didn’t work and felt very stuck from time to time, but that too passed. A periodic reminder to self.
- Sivuhenkilö by Saara Turunen
- Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage by Dani Shapiro
- Björks Homogenic by Emily MacKay
- Wandering Earth by Cixin Liu. One of the best books of the year for me.
- Brevene Dine Legger jeg under madrassen by Astrid Lindgren, Sara Schwardt and Lena Törnqvist. The first of two books I read in Swedish!
- Mythos by Stephen Fry. Inspired by Circe and my childhood obsession with Greek myths.
- Unquiet by Linn Ullmann. Bought this one first in Finnish, then in English on Kindle and finally in Swedish.
- Eve’s Hollywood by Eve Babitz
- Was back in New York for a week. Visited UN for the first time, had a surreal dinner with heads of states and a wonderful discussion with Samuel Abrams on Finnish Education.
- New York is so easy to love when visiting. Met with Joan Ganz Cooney folks at Sesame Street and with production companies. Had a fun dinner with K. and E. I was very very nervous about and a relaxed, lovely brunch in Brooklyn with old and new friends. Spent a proper Sunday ramen day with J. Ran 16 kilometers in Central Park by accident. Wrote a lot.
- Won Technology Playmaker of the Year award in UK, which was a nice surprise. Celebrated C turning 30 and A turning 11. Wrote about Science Fiction for YLE. Got a great e-mail from A. I still think about.
- Thought about possible PhD topics. Also struggled a bit when realising how much Instagram and other platforms reward, well, clothes and makeup, and what my thinking around this should be. Combine with the ongoing Wes Anderson and Robert Yeoman obsession.
- Mistä maailmat alkavat by Joel Haahtela
- Henkien saari by Ina Westman. Stuck with me for a long time.
- Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires and the Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers by Simon Winchester. The structure of this book inspired me to Stefan Zweig's world and led to other adventures.
- Visited Georgia for a teacher training session and book launch. Made it to the news! Visited also Tallinn and high-fived Nassim Taleb. Kept thinking about this question.
- Shot the Love Letters series, which was my first experience in showrunning and scriptwriting. It’s wonderful to experience something that you willed into the world coming together. (A proper thank you here for everyone involved). Spent many fun days at A’s building and collecting all the props. Didn’t succeed in something I was certain I would.
- Turned 33. Officially stopped feeling young sometime this or last year, but the Nyancat cake did help and so did Mary Oliver. “In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.”
- Spent Easter holidays with family and hand-cutting Assembly code out of colourful paper. Did a lovely weekend trip to Hanko, a few school visits and the annual Koodi2016 party with J. and A, and a dinner hosted by A & K. The Silurian Hypothesis was the intellectual catnip of the month.
- Returned to SF, first time with a direct flight. Long run to Ocean Beach was much needed. Met a lot of old and new friends, schemed with H.
- Gods and Robots by Adrienne Mayor
- The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner
- Adelen kysymys by Joel Haahtela
- The New Childhood by Jordan Shapiro. Gladly recommend this to anyone interested in questions on screen time, technology & childhood.
- The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane.
- Upstream by Mary Oliver.
- New York for a few days, keep loving the work CS4All does. Continued to have misluck with my computer. Went to Oslo and Trondheim on booktour, which was fun.
- Running season started for real. Did the Ladestein trail in Trondheim and Karhunkierros trail competition (34 kilometers, 900 vertical, 5.45 and almost missed my flight home).
- Recorded the Finnish audiobook version of Tove Jansson’s Sommarboken, which was a dream project in so many ways. Discovered I also like sitting in the dark, reading — who would have guessed :) Loved Chernobyl and the fact that we could also listen to a behind-the-scenes podcast of it. People experiencing something together.
- Started working with Rights and Brands earlier in the year, and was really happy with the progress we are making with new book markets. Ruby is now out in 28 languages! Hung out with J who was the coolest. Wrote about screen time for YLE. Missed not having a garden anymore, and looked into tech instead.
- As much as I loved Wandering Earth the book collection, I ended up baffled by the movie. Still, I suppose in 5 years all entertainment I watch will be Chinese.
- A dear friend was in an accident, that profoundly shocked the whole group. Had another lovely christening party of a goddaughter. Bought a mug with Astrid Lindgren’s quote that cheers me every morning: “Give the children love, more love and still more love — and the common sense will come by itself.”
- Coders by Clive Thompson.
- The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig. Loved this so much.
- Working by Robert Caro. One of big influences of the year.
- Figuring by Maria Popova.
- Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney.
- Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos
- Travelled a lot. First to Tokyo, then a quick trip to Copenhagen and Brussels, then to Bangkok (did the Babyshark dance on stage with the composer)and finally to Stockholm where I did my first live tv in Swedish. Talk about going beyond comfort zone!
- Had a memorable night with H. and A, one of those summer nights in Helsinki when everything is light and beautiful. Went to the state dinner for Korean president and attended Kultaranta talks, feeling very fancy. Visited Savoy with T. & his culinary friends and loved the herb garden. Herb Simon and his letters.
- Loved the Moominworld in Hanno, Tokyo with all of it’s oddball beauty and detail. Playdate made my soul pur and found my favorite joke of the year that combines mean girls and machine learning.
- Obsessed over the new Zelda trailer, the short-haired princess and Reddit theories. Found a newly coined expression: Historical Cinematic Universe
- Spent midsummer's working on Love Letters and dog sitting. By the end of the month I was quite ready for vacation — went to Tuscany with a group of friends for a wonderful week of sleep and champagne and burrata and reading. “Simple is not easy.”
- Exhalation by Ted Chiang. A favorite of the year.
- Changing my mind by Zadie Smith
- The Magus by John Fowles
- Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
- Was free of all responsibility and schedules. Went on an impromptu Eastern Finland tour: first to Savonlinna Opera Festival, then to A’s summerhouse, then to P’s island.
- Had a lovely time in London with A, A and H. Loved the Olafur Eliasson exhibit at Tate, cooked a dinner of edible hope in Brixton, bought an aspirational dress and twenty kilos of books.
- Was both tired with apartment hunting and feeling homeless, but also enjoyed the frathouse feel of living with L and M. Nostalgia much with the new Veronica Mars and Neon Genesis Evangelion finally on Netflix.
- Wrote about memory and the digital world. Was excited about Tyler’s and Patrick’s Progress Studies.
- Did a biketrip to Porvoo and Loviisa and spent a few lovely, introverted days writing at the Strömförs Ruukki. Burnt my back while biking so badly I still have little faded wings.
- Varovainen matkailija by Merete Mazzarella
- Outline by Rachel Cusk.
- A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin
- Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon
- Knife by Jo Nesbo
- Bringing Reggio Emilia Home by Louise Boyd Cadwell
- Returned to work a little bit happier and full of life. Enjoyed Hive a lot and it was amazing to see real students in a real building. So different from my normal work, but so rewarding.
- Worked a lot on the Love Letters materials, making the website ready and trying to get everything together. Studied SVOD strategies and chapter books and children’s tv and was a little bit all over the place. I’m not sure Robert Caro would agree on my methods.
- Thought about Nintendo a lot. Watched Euphoria.
- August felt like endless Sunday dinners. Also a lot of culture (Gurrelieder, Flow — where Erykah Badu made me think of speed, Ellen Theseleff, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and running (enjoyed Sandistrail and Midnight Run a lot). K’s graduation party and A’s one year birthday party. One evening I was walking down Fredrikinkatu, realising it was the last day of summer and it was ok and I was ok.
- And How Are You, Dr. Sacks by Lawrence Welscher. A favorite, for so many reasons.
- Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences by Lawrence Welscher. Sits together on the bookshelf with the Hockney later in the year.
- The Ecology of Imagination in Childhood by Edith Cobb
- Transit by Rachel Cusk
- On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
- Bolla by Pajtim Statovic
- Thought a lot about metaphors and disparate connections between things. Loved Copenhagen Techfestival and visited the Computer History museum in Cambridge for the first time. Teachers (and people on the Internet) continued to inspire me. Was appointed to a High Level Working Group in UNESCO.
- A selfie with smily eyes, Nausicae Valley of the Wind in an open air movie theater on a windy August evening, a life-affirming weekend in Copenhagen, walking into my future home for the first time. Felt very light, like built-in-bunny-sneakers were finally out and a full year had passed.
- Saw Downton Abbey in the movies with family. Fleabag season 2 had the perfect ending. Cursor hats. Thought a lot about letter writing and wrote more, with new people.
- Mary Oliver helped me and many others. That this, too, was a gift. Therapy was such a lifeline throughout the year.
- Path to Power by Robert A. Caro. I listened to this as an audiobook of 40+ hours while running. By the end of it I felt I had ran with LBJ.
- Decisive Moments In History: Twelve Historical Miniatures by Stefan Zweig. A+.
- Every Word Is a Bird We Teach to Sing: Encounters with the Mysteries and Meanings of Language by Daniel Tammet
- Winner Take All the Elite Charade of Changing the World by
- A month of very quick stops: Paris, Stockholm, Lund, Berlin. Had time to run with J along Seine and three fika med bulle in one day at Volante. Loved the tech audience in Berlin (and ended my talk accidentally quoting Spiderman) and got to finally visit my German publisher’s school. They did a lovely play on Ruby 2 earlier in the summer.
- Missed drawing a lot. Next year I need to plan a small illustration project for fall. Drawing is the best videogame (or Zelda?). Season 10 of Fortnite blew my mind.
- Started watching Succession like everyone else. Went running with A for the first time. Couldn’t make up my mind about Joseph Weizenbaum
- Went to Levi for R&M’s 30th. Made a birthday speech around Nintendo life advice I plan to expand upon.
- Had nerve-wrecking few weeks waiting for the apartment bid to go through. Started taking Swedish classes just for fun. Jean Piaget’s office inspired me.
- A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Took me a while to get into this book, but once I did, it was
- Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan.
- 7+7 Brev I en orolig tid by Juha Itkonen & Kjell Westö. Read this in Swedish!
- Lots and lots of travel. Zurich, London, Paris, Riga and Dubai. Met wonderful educators at the Hundred Summit which is more and more relevant for me every year. A project I thought was buried continued, E was/is a champion.
- Did a speculative historic fiction workshop at the International School, which might or might not lead to something. Wrote about natural language processing, AI and what it means for our reading comprehension in schools. Went to Dubai with E, conferenced hard and planned the next year. Got a serendipitous tour at OliOli and fell in love.
- Did fondue with L, L and K in Zurich and enjoyed the Campus seminar. Met with amazing teachers at the teaching university in Zurich and saw Pekka play. Went to the first UNESCO meeting in Paris and got to visit my long-time favorite computer science unplugged focused kindergarten Colori and realized so many things about myself after watching the video.
- Slush, mostly side-events, one quick interview with two of my best friends and dancing-until-5-AM-sneaking-out-of-parties-kind-of-conference. Saw The Visitors with D and M, felt at peace with the world. Saw Björk in London with M and A and am still processing.
- Many lovely birthday parties and Helsingin Sanomat 130 years gala. Every spare moment was spent renovating the new apartment with my parents, who have helped me so much throughout the year. While sanding and painting the 100+ year old door frames felt very much at peace.
- Adventures of a Computational Explorer by Stephen Wolfram
- The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of Walt Disney Company by Bob Iger. So interesting.
- Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe by George Dyso
- Supernova Era by Cixin Liu.
- Kudos by Rachel Cusk. Finished the “divorce trilogy” in weird coincidences.
- Bowie’s Books: The Hundred Literary Heroes Who Changed His Life by John O’Connell. Loved the format of this too.
- Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life — Tate Modern: 11th July 2019–5th January 2020. I rarely like exhibition catalogues, but this was an exception. Worked as a solo piece of art.
- November and December are always too busy and this year I deliberately tried to not exhaust myself. Did a lot of babysitting, said no to many things and didn’t push other stuff. And nothing broke, the opposite. My TED talk went past 2 million views and a project started in the summer of giving a special Sberbank edition of Hello Ruby to 70 000 Russian kids came out. Enjoyed this discussion on Monocle Radio a lot. I scrolled through the Hello Ruby twitter account and saw almost 3000 posts worth of reasons to keep working.
- I subscribe to a dozen e-mail newsletters that bring me weekly joy (and I still am an old school RSS user!). Recommendations for the new year: Robin Sloan, Craig Mod, Recs, Sentiers, Electric Eel, Austin Kleon, Convivial Society and The Creative AI. I think a newsletter is the one thing I’ll try to (re)start next year.
- Watched The Crown, The Irishman and Booksmart, all of which I loved (but still, this is still probably my all-time favorite genre). Wrote about work for YLE.
- Gave a speech at Huawei gala with themes I want to continue with, including long term technology. “What I really like doing is what I call Import and Export. I like taking ideas from one place and putting them into another place and seeing what happens when you do that.” — Brian Eno
- Worked every extra minute on the apartment, but didn’t quite finish it for Christmas. Loved organising a babyshower for A. Danced at Otava party until morning, took A to see Peppi Pitkätossu. Started a new hobby with classical music. Had a little crush. Didn’t make my 1000 km a year running goal, somehow just lost all interest in running during November and December. But quite close, 846 kilometers.
- Spent the first Christmas in three years at our summerhouse. Enjoyed having the entire family together and the boxing day shenanigans of 20+ people. Watched Mary Poppins returns and had instant flashbacks to Fleabag smirks. Changed my LinkedIn title to Mary Poppins of Computing
- Grand Union by Zadie Smith. Zadie is forever and these short stories make me very excited for whatever she has in store for next!
- Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit
- The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli. SO MANY THOUGHTS.
- The Man Who Solved the Market by Gregory Zuckerman.
- The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
- Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
- Mitä meille tapahtui by Jussi Pullinen. Wrote a review of this, possible first since high-school!
- A History of Pictures by David Hockney and Martin Gayford.
- Sunnuntaiesseet by Antti Arnkil