Oleg's bio


My name invokes my birthroots in the Soviet Union, and an eastern european upbringing that tends to emphasize отличность (distinction, or excellence) over личность (personality, or identity). The origins of my name are Old Norse, so a few millenia ago you might have been shouting out "Hei Helgi!" instead of tweeting @loleg, while the Russian pronunciation might be better transliterated as Al'yehg.

"The Family of Man" by Thivierr CC BY-SA 3.0

I grew up in Calgary, Canada, sometimes referred to as "Silicon Valley North" in attempt to diversify the petroleum-dominated economy, and home to one of the ealiest free software hackathons - which I, unfortunately, did not attend, though I'm pretty sure I recall hearing about on one or another BBS. Servicing computers and debugging the internets became second nature after spending far more time than prescribed in the computer labs of my schools and in my friends' basement makerspaces and garage startups. One of these was a precocious and successful web development shop with one of my best friends. Another, a failed online divestiture portal, my first scalable web application and an early foray into the art of geodata packaging.

Romance and university brought me to Switzerland, refined my enthusiasm for linear algebra and telecommunications protocols, and without a degree I started work in the industry, in academia, within startups and multinationals. I am grateful for having had the chance to see the world, spend quality time in the original Silicon Valley as well as the tech districts of Oxford, London, Paris and Berlin. After a decade of thrilling pursuits in enterprise software, I found my way to the more self-guided and purpose-led vistas of freelancing for open source.

At dat.alets.ch - my studio based in Bern - I have consulted since 2012 on data engineering, networking and multimedia. I have worked with a variety of organizations in the public and private sector, supported research work and lectured at all manner of academic institutions. Most of it is high levels of abstraction, but I still try to regularly find myself sweating over a motherboard or breadboard with a screwdriver in hand. This is best exemplified in my enthusiastic membership of the Open Networking Infrastructure Association (ONIA).

Through being in, and helping to start, co-working spaces around the country, I became a core member of the sociocratically-run community at Effinger. In the middle of last year, freshly informed by the experience of applying pandemic-response safety measures, I helped to build out the new Coworking Köniz space, where I currently work from. Creating excellent working and collaboration conditions remains a strong personal preoccupation in both a digital and tangible sense.

Fired up by a growing engagement in digital civil society organizations over the past ten years, I am today on the board of several non-profit organizations, most notably Opendata.ch - the Swiss chapter of Open Knowledge Foundation, which runs civic innovation hackathons around the country, and Echtzeit - Digitale Kultur, for competitions in electronic art. I have already in my youth made a habit of indulging in   this kind of time-boxed team-based activity, and gradually became somewhat a go-to-person for. I am committed to helping folks of all backgrounds and every career choice to make use of open, interdisciplinary co-creation and prototyping: and run the open source hackathon platform dribdat.cc, the research group hack4socialgood.ch, the DINAcon open source awards HACKnight, the schoolofdata.ch Data Expeditions, and many other projects chronicled at the forum.opendata.ch discussion boards to support this purpose.

Over the past five years or so, I have been part of the Frictionless Data initiative at Open Knowledge, taking part in foundational discussions of data portability, running learning sessions, informational workshops, and applying these standards and tools in a variety of projects. I am familiar with numerous code platforms, as well as the drawbacks of "turf wars" - incompatibilities between computing styles that distract us from the everyday struggles of maintaining and sustaining high quality open source and open data. With a 2018 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, I started efforts in developing Frictionless Data support libraries in the Julia programming environment, particularly well known in high-performance computing. Last year, I took on the similarly testing challenge of supporting open source efforts and standards for the Go-based workflow system Proxeus. My everyday work involves maintaining code in Python, ECMAScript and various "dev ops" and shell scripting dialects.

Around the same time, a grant from the Metropolitan Conference of Zürich funded the Smart Use investigation into the untapped potential of data science and visualization for urban planning. The partnership which formed around this became the company cividi GmbH, where I now work on open source mapping and data science platforms. We recently ran a hackathon in support of world-famous Swiss digital cartography, and you should check out the results at https://cividi.space

Besides all this, I have the good fortune of a modest family life at the edge of a forest with my gifted and compassionate scientist wife, Franziska (whose name comes from Francia, an old geographical term), and our two incredible children, whose needs I serve with great prerogative and pride while trying to keep focus on life's all-too-brief essentials.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to write me a note and speak your mind.

Be excellent to each other.

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