My appointment as an Assistant Professor in the Web Information Systems group started as the first COVID surge began, so I’m still living in Hannover, waiting for the right time to relocate to the Netherlands. My work at TU Delft takes place in something of a virtual, digital vacuum right now – including research, teaching and building up the Design@Scale AI-lab (where we pursue Human-AI collaboration for solving complex social problems). Necessity is the mother of invention, according to Plato, and we are all starting to realise how much one can actually accomplish by working remotely.
I think it helps that I am an optimist, always trying to find the silver lining. Thanks to COVID-19 I have found some time to read books that were gathering dust on my shelves, and to listen to interesting podcasts, such as The Book of Why by Dana Mackenzie and Judea Pearl and the Making Sense podcast. Last October, my wife gave me a pull-up bar that I never expected to put to such good use. I also co-initiated The Academic Fringe Festival, a forum for open, accessible, and inspiring dissemination of knowledge from renowned scientists across the globe. Keeping myself busy has kept me grounded throughout this journey.
I welcomed the breathing space between COVID-19 waves, allowing me to regroup with friends. Now I look forward to meeting my colleagues in person, and the casual interactions in hallways. And I want to visit my family, which is spread-out over three continents. With working online as the status quo, we may indulge in an extended family reunion as soon as it’s allowed.