Cultural differences, every now and then it takes some time to explain. Being a Dutchman, wherever I come abroad I have to defend the infamous Dutch lunch. And believe me, there is very little ammunition. We usually stick to a miserable sandwich with some Gouda cheese. If we are in a daring mood, there may be a croquette. And always, there is buttermilk, the unnecessary cruel incarnation of what originally was meant as plain dairy. I have seen tough, Mediterranean business men cry like little babies when they had taken their first sip. The pain, the agony!
Compared to that, our annual Queen’s Day celebration on the 30th of April is not even that hard to explain. A monarchy? Sure, why not. Charming. Celebrating the Queen’s birthday when it’s not even her birthday? Probably some good pragmatic reasons for it. Grown up people dancing in the streets with orange wigs on their heads? Well, we have seen that before on live television, haven’t we. Might even get used to it one day.
Only the ‘vrijmarkt’ (freemarket), that’s still a question mark to many. An American colleague who accidentally witnessed it once did an attempt to summarise. “So if I understand this well” he said with a worried tone in his voice “your idea of celebration is to open up your attics, get the old stuff out of there and then sell it on the street to other Dutchmen?”. I confirmed, hesitantly. It did sound a bit strange, the way he put it.
On the other hand, I do support the concept. In business, that is. It is a good idea to periodically go through your belongings. Wipe away the dust and have a good, contemplating look. Some assets shine more than expected. Others, no doubt can be thrown away immediately. It cleans up and creates more room to breathe. Exactly the energy boost you need after a long, cold winter. And then even make money with it, why aren’t they doing the same anywhere else in the World?

All in all, I believe it would be a good initiative to do this every year for the IT department. By means of a new folklore, really. Imagine, we would call it Digital Queen’s Day. That day we all stay at the offices and open up the IT attic. We have a thorough go through all these legacy applications, redundant solutions, obvious duplicates and home-brew hobby products. We may even find a few rusty servers, somewhere in a corner. We assess and then throw away what we no longer need. Normally, that is not negotiable but on this special day all caution is thrown to the winds.
Afterwards, it will be time for celebration. Liberated, clear skies, a path forward and even some additional money in the pocket. A true freemarket indeed.

Update: this item was obviously posted before the tragic events on Queen’s Day