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Data News — 2024

2024 — Let's conclude 2023 and open 2024 with an open article about what I do and what I'd love to improve. This is a bit personal I hope you'll like it.

Christophe Blefari
Christophe Blefari
7 min read
silhouette of person standing on sea dock under cloudy sky
Thoughts. Backward and forward. (credits)

Hello, it's 2024. I hope you're well and that you've ended 2023 on a high note with your loved ones. I wish you a Happy New Year and all the best for 2024. I'm very happy to have the privilege of corresponding with you and it honours me.

This edition of Data News will focus on the end of 2023 with a good retrospective about me and my activities—content and freelancing. Of course, it will also look ahead to 2024, and I'll try to set the vision 2024. But you know how bad I'm with goals.

Let's wrap-up 2023

In technology, we live in a fast-paced environment and when you compare yourself to others or try to keep up with all the news, it's easy to get FOMO. This year was perhaps the key moment when I managed to step away from vanity metrics and take breaks away from work. With the exception of my trip to Japan in 2019, I think this is the first time in my life it's happened in this way. Even my parents noticed I was away for a week from the computer for Christmas.

The next step for me is finally to recognise that even if I have a deep feeling that I haven't achieved anything in 2023, that I'm always behind in my ideas, it's a wrong feeling and I should be proud.

Proud about my content, my professional and my personal life.

Content — I don't do it for fame

When I started content creation, my North Star was to create an international audience while being in France—hence in Europe—aiming, at my level, to balance with everything in data being said/made in the US.

Then, I also stated that I wanted to produce content that I'd like to read, actually all the stuff I produce is something that helps my sharpen my ideas and to save for later. If I like my own content other will do it because I'm a just a normal person.

What 2023 brought:

  • Followers — I doubled in followers on my 3 main platforms: I reached 4000 people on the blog, 8000 on LinkedIn and almost 600 on Twitter (even if I don't post that much there). My only target is, to be honest, to grow my blog, having 4000 people who trusted my enough to enter their email and validate the subscription is just crazy.
  • The blog — 46 articles published in 2023, this is way less than in 2022 but it's ok. In term of views my blog got an increase of 67% going up to 36k unique visitors, just wtf.
  • Video & audio — This year I've published 3 podcasts episode, which is way less than what I initially wanted and I participated in 2 podcast épisode with DataGen. This is something I want to change in 2024.
  • Conferences — I've talked to a few meetups and online conferences, my main issue here is that everytime I do a talk I want it to be a unique experience, so it asks me so many prep hours. Something I should change maybe. On the same topic we ran the Paris Airflow meetup for 6 months but took a never-ending break after the summer holidays.

In the end, I've done more things IRL and I've met a lot of people I wouldn't have met if I hadn't been visible online and I think that's the big W of 2023. That's what brings me the most joy in fact. Thank you all for being so nice and supportive with me ❤️.

In conclusion I'm happy with this. But frustrated not to have done more. Still I decided not to focus entirely on content creation so I kept room for freelancing and personal life.

Professional — The limits of freelancing

I started my freelance career almost 4 years ago. In a world affected by COVID, At that time, remote work was the new norm in the tech and people were surprised that I decided to go down the unstable route when COVID was already enough.

And I won't regret it, for the last years I've worked on the most pleasant projects with people I really enjoyed working with. I'm lucky enough to be able to choose the companies I work with, people who understand my requirements. Being able to take time for myself while working wherever I want on projects I choose is something I wish everyone could do. It changed the way I see work.

It's time for a review of 2023.

  • Revenue — My freelancing activity is stable, last year I billed almost the same revenue as 2022 around 140k€, while taking more big breaks. In term of clients I had in number less clients than in 2022 because my main client kept me busy.
  • Projects— The few noticeable projects I've worked on
    • I designed, developed and deployed a reporting application with Apache Superset. This is for the French gov, for more than 60k users (+12k weekly), it contains more than 10 dashboards with 5 custom visualisations in React—you can see an example screenshot here.
    • At the same time for the gov I've worked on a larger project to develop a private datalake to work datasets with on-demand RStudio and Jupyter containers. For this I deployed a private Kubernetes with on-top MinIO, Keycloak, LDAP (for auth) and Onyxia to deploy containers.
    • Then I've worked to implement a few small data stacks (revolving around ELT and a warehouse) and helped 3 companies migrating from something to dbt.
  • Partnerships — I had a few discussion with people about partnerships in 2023 and did not really push it forward, but I should next year.
  • Angel investment — I did my two first investments recently, it continues my content North Star, putting light on stuff made in Europe. I'm so happy to finally open this path. Welcome blef ventures. More about on this soon.
  • Data engineering — Data engineering is changing and my work is changing. When I started data engineering in 2014, the term wasn't even existing. Moving data from A to B has always been something fun for me. But with the years something changed and I might want something else as evidence by my work at gov, I do engineering. Data engineering is moving towards the left creating a deeper gap between data users and underlying layers. More on my views about this in a coming article.
  • Other freelancers — When I started, I France we were only a few doing data engineering in freelance. Now, because of all the layoffs, the way the work is changing and the promise of money a lot of people entered the game. I've met a lot a tried to give advices but it probably means for me that I need to renew my offering as well.

I'm happy about 2023, but it brought a few big issues in my daily routine that I want to fix next year:

  • I feel alone in my daily work — working partially and remotely for companies isolated me a bit and after 4 years it's time for a social boost
  • Fuck dopamine — all the attention business distracts me so much and I lose focus so fast, especially when I open Twitch. I changed my phone routine and spend way less time on it but I have to change something on my computer as well.
  • Get things done — When it comes to finishing task, I'm good when it's for client, but when it's for myself, there is a huge improvement.
  • Administrative tasks — ...

Personal — Catch me in a train

In 2023 I've achieved a great Work-Life-Balance. I'm so happy and in love with my girlfriend, who is freelancing as well, so the rhythm is kinda the same for us and we have the same kind of issue even if we are not working in the same ares—she's in the movies industry.

  • Travel — We still mainly live in Berlin, and I travelled a lot between Paris—where my business is—and Berlin. These ~10 trips represent all-together around 80kg in carbon emissions. In comparaison I went once to Malaga last year to follow my gf for work and it's just insanely more (300kg eC02).
  • Sport — Since August I started running again, 550 kms since. Twice a week for 2 months then 4 times a week and I've never been happier. Some people might remember but it was my 2022 goals to run once a week. It took me 1,5 years to reach the goal. The target is 45 mins for a 10k next year. I also started bouldering, unexpected and I like it. Still in 2023 I did less bike than the previous years.
  • Friendships — Met a few new friends and I'm so happy with this because when you pass 30 I feel that creating new relationships become way more difficult.

A few articles

That's a wrap for 2023, and because it's the Data News, here a few articles that people (and me) liked in 2023 that you might find interesting:

a close up of a cell phone screen with numbers on it
Here we go again (credits)

2024

2024 marks the tenth anniversary of my entry into working life. My 6-month internship started in April 2014 and I was developing a custom drag-n-drop dashboard application with Django and D3 as a project. Fast-forward 10 years later projects haven't changed 😅.

Once again I wish you the best for 2024.

If you are following me for a long time you know that I'm super bad at having resolution. Let's more make ideas and stuff I'll be proud about in January 2025 when writing the 2024 post.

  • Keeping the habits — I often repeat this is not about motivation but discipline. Let's continue having the habits I have, continuing running and the newsletter.
  • Adding new habits — I'd like to add at least 2 habits, especially in the content creation, this year I want to reboot my YouTube channel and stick to podcast publication.
  • Create courses — For all my pro career I've written courses—I teach since 2015—but I've never really created something for people online. It's time.
  • Release 2 products — I want to release 2 products that can live by themselves next year, one around the blog, the other one we will see.
  • I want to find my new pro journey. If you have ideas, hit me up.
  • Invest in 4 companies — If you are in this journey, same, hit me up.

Let's go and see you this Friday for a more traditional newsletter. I'm sorry for this long format but changing years is something enough noticeable.

Thanks again ❤️. I wish you a good end of Sunday.

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Christophe Blefari

Staff Data Engineer. I like 🚲, 🪴 and 🎮. I can do everything with data, just ask.

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