Ivo Van Woerden's blog

System Overload (graduation speech)

One of the biggest data centers in the world is situated in Camp Williams just above Lake Utah. It has more than 1 million square feet and it has cost more than 2 billion dollars to build. The data center is home to the many servers of the National Security Agency (NSA). The agency uses them to store the data they collect on a daily basis with a collection of programs under the codename PRISM. It basically means they collect everything on everyone who uses the internet.

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Why 9/11 still gives me goose bumps

Windows on the World, it was called. And I remember that the view from the 107th floor of the North Tower, one of the Twin Towers in New York City, seemed to be exactly that to me. So high up the horizon wasn’t its usual flat, but became a slightly bended line, revealing the roundness of the Earth. It invoked feelings of being small and insignificant; a humbling experience.

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Size Matters

After visiting the Native-American National Pipestone Monument in Tracy, Minnesota, I was given an “Indian” nickname by my colleagues: Sleepy Giant. The ‘sleepy’ aspect comes from being somewhat exhausted at certain times, and not afraid to say so. The giant part is nothing new: I’m 6,5 and quite massive. When I’m confronted with others telling me I’m gigantic, I usually try to turn that into an opportunity to share a fun fact: in my home country, the Netherlands, the tallest people in the world roam the grounds.

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Why US public toilets remind me of the NSA

Why US public toilets remind me of the NSA

It doesn’t happen very often that I feel a little culture shock in the US. The American culture reaches me on a daily basis in the Netherlands through music, movies, TV-series and literature. But there is one place that makes me uncomfortable every time I visit the land of the free: the public toilet.

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Media as charity

“You won’t find the name Kardashian on our website,” MinnPost’s executive editor Andrew Putz said. We were sitting in a circle in a Minneapolis warehouse where MinnPost, an online news outlet for the Minnesota area, has its offices. MinnPost is a non-profit media organisation that depends on grants and donations for a large chunk of its income. The site offers daily updates with mainly background stories and analyses, serving a highly educated public who also read The New Yorker and the New York Times (and generally couldn’t care less about the Kardiashians).

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The perfect introduction to Minnesota culture: cat videos

You might expect an investigative journalist who’s flown in from the Netherlands to become a Fellow at the World Press Institute to use this blog to share insights on serious subjects like politics or criminal investigations. I’m afraid those comments will have to wait, since my host family promised me to introduce me to Minnesota culture by taking me out to one of the strangest things I’ve seen in a very long time.

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