… and I have several reasons to celebrate it. I also have a special reason to dedicate it to a special person – Erik Duval, a Professor at the Computer Science Department of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, a person that hardly knows me. But let me share a little story with you, in order to explain things:
Back in 2011, Agro-Know moved into the new offices at Vrilissia, Attica, Greece – the same ones that we are currently using. Back then we were a bunch of people coming from different backgrounds, with different expertise and workspaces e.g. I was working for the Greek Research & Technology Network (GRNET) before joining Agro-Know. As there were only a few of us in the office, we had to do more or less everything; we shared project management tasks, organization of educational and training events, dissemination of projects, dealing with financial aspects of our work, even administrative work. There was only a primitive structure in the company and not enough people to allow specialization and focusing on specific tasks – this allowed us to try different roles, work on various tasks and have a little bit of everything in our minds.
In this context, throughout the years and until today, I had the opportunity to go through a number of different positions: metadata expert, project manager (for a limited period only), dissemination expert, trainer in agricultural schools, developing specialized courses in training curricula, supporting the IT support team of AK in simple tasks, Agro-Know “Ambassador” in events and meetings, writing deliverables, agricultural information specialist etc. However what I liked the most was my limited involvement in social media but there was no obvious connection with my work in Agro-Know. I had my personal blog (for quite a long time), Twitter account and other accounts in social media; however, none of them was used for professional reasons (I also realized that I love agricultural information management, but this is another story).
It was the 20th of May 2011, when Erik visited us in the Agro-Know office. He was invited by Nikos (Manouselis), as they have been collaborating for quite a long time in several contexts, such as the ARIADNE Foundation. It was the first time that I met him (and my only chance until today) and he delivered a generic presentation on his work and interests. I cannot recall too much of it now, apart from the (almost total) lack of text and the black background of his slides. However, his presentation was so influential to me, that I decided that I needed to use social media for documenting parts of my work and share it with the world, as he also did. The next day I had already set up my professional blog and dedicated the first blog post to Erik – after all, he was the inspiration behind all this! Erik showed me that documenting and sharing our work outcomes through social media is not only possible but also a need for creating awareness and sharing them with anyone interested.
Since then, I created a professional Twitter account and also managed several project ones, Facebook pages etc. However, it was the existence of my professional blog that Nikos (Manouselis) mentioned at some point, as an idea for creating an Agro-Know one and putting me fully in charge for that. This led to the development of the Agro-Know blog, about 2,5 years after I created mine. This also led me (along with my active involvement in the Agro-Know Twitter account, Flickr and Facebook page) to the position of the Marketing & Networks Manager of Agro-Know, the one that I hold now – it was obvious that I was doing what I liked to do and I was doing it good (at least this is what I believe!). Right now I am managing more Agro-Know social media than I can really handle, I deal with other marketing activities, I am in the middle of really interesting networks and I am enjoying most parts of my work, which makes me happy (just keep in mind that my background is in Agricultural Biotechnology!) 🙂
On the other hand, Erik had some bad news to share in March 2014; he was diagnosed with a rare kind of lymphoma which sounded really scary… However, Erik decided that he was stronger than that and that he would keep using his social media for sharing his updates (he actually lives and breathes social media!) with the rest of us as well as keep his normal routines (even the professional one) with only minor alterations. He manages to go on with a great sense of humor and a really positive attitude, acting as a role model for the rest of us. You can read his updates in his personal blog.
I don’t really know Erik, but I admire his work. He has been a source of inspiration to me and I think he has significantly affected my work in Agro-Know, even without him knowing it. It was just his short presentation that changed the way that I have been working since then. So I believe that the least that I could do was to dedicate this special blog post to him and wish him a quick and painless recovery! Get well soon Erik – our positive energy will soon reach you! 🙂