My Opinion

Rearview Mirror: A look back at 2016

Earlier today I was asked to share with my team what accomplishments I was most proud of in 2016. Rolling back the tape and looking at everything that’s happened in this year, I realized I should do some sort of year in review / inventory to document what I’ve done and challenge myself to do better in the coming year. So, borrowing a page from fellow Learning author and person I aspire to be more like Carrie Dils’ blog, here is my 2016 Year In Review / Inventory / Reflection: / LinkedIn Learning

In addition to regular updates of WordPress Essential Training and other related courses, I developed several new courses including Foundations of UX: Content Strategy, Responsive Web Design In the Browser, CSS Grid: First Look, Web Icons with SVG, and Advanced Layouts and Filtering with Isotope.js.

For 2017 I plan on continuing this trend, releasing advanced courses on WordPress development centered around the WP REST API, and broadening my base of courses on web standards and advanced development tools and techniques.

2016 was also a year for dabbling in new publishing formats. There’s a good chance you are reading this article on LinkedIn Pulse where I’ve published a steady stream of content touching on web development and related areas, and I’ve also contributed to the LinkedIn Learning Blog at various times. You can expect to see more material from me on these platforms and on my personal blog at in 2017.

WordPress Contribution

One of my major goals for 2016 was to become an active contributor to WordPress, and in particular WordPress core. I’ve been a “soft” contributor for some time, but rarely got any deeper than speaking at conferences, producing learning materials, and providing input to tickets and new features.

In the summer, I got a chance to speak at WordCamp Europe, a personal goal of mine since the conference was first announced, and I took the opportunity to bring the conversation about empathy and acceptance in design and communities to my own community. The talk was well received and I’d be honored if you watched it and read the accompanying article.

As for contribution, I invested my hours in contributing code and opinions to the new default theme to ship with WordPress 4.7 called “Twenty Seventeen” and some of the new features in WordPress core including Post Type Templates, reorganization of the tools in the WYSIWYG TinyMCE editor, and better discoverability of keyboard shortcuts.

In 2017 I hope to continue, and ideally increase, my level of contribution to WordPress because I believe the application and the community are important contributors to the future development of a free and open web.

Personal Things

2016 started with the best of news: In January we confirmed my wife was expecting a baby boy. This meant a drastic restructuring of our lives, and we prepared for his arrival in late September. Little did we know nature had little regard for our plans. Right at the start of August, only two weeks after our return from WordCamp Europe in Vienna, our son Leo Roar decided to make his appearance 6 weeks early. And with that, whatever structure existed went out the window. We spent a total of 4 weeks in the hospital before brining home our amazing little baby, and it was only thanks to the support of my amazing team at Learning and the equally amazing team at the hospital NICU that the Mortangela train didn’t totally derail.

Four months later and all I can say is we owe a life’s debt to modern medicine and socialized health care. Without them we would not have the pleasure of spending every day with what in my totally objective opinion is the cutest and most amazing little child ever to be born.

On a broader note, 2016 was the year that reawakened my long slumbering political self. Watching political schisms turn to impassable chasms and the civil discourse of our modern society give way to extreme partisanship and hate fueled anger left me despondent and fearing for the future. Once upon a time, I was an aspiring politician, but in a moment of deep self reflection I realized my energy was better spent outside parliamentary board rooms. For the next several years I willingly excluded myself from the political process, but now I realize that was suppressing a vital part of my being. So, in 2017 I will get involved once more, though in a much different manner than before.

Does this mean I’ll join a political party or become a partisan? No. That will not help anyone. Moving forward I’ll use my experience in politics and web technologies in whatever way I can to help heal the divide and encourage more healthy discussions about politics and our society. What exactly that looks like I am not entirely clear on yet, but as one who evangelizes the powers and potential of the web, I must also be one who helps make it better and moves our society forward using this amazing technology. More to come on that front as our journey around the sun commences once more.

Final thoughts at the end of the year

We are at an amazing time in history. Information is available at our fingertips in a way and with an ease unlike anything we ever dared dream. With that comes great responsibility. I truly believe we are straddling a 10 year demarcation line in history – separating the time before the connected self to the time after. What we see on the web, the internet, and in the world today are the beginnings of a new society shaped first and foremost by our ability to connect to anyone, anywhere, at any time. This is an ability our species and our society was never built to handle, and much of the turmoil we see both online and off is a direct result of our infantile first steps in this new world mostly unexplored. As we cross fully into this new reality, we must take stock of ourselves and ask some important questions, questions well deserving of a late night conversation at the end of the year:

  • What impact does language, location, and culture have on individuals and our global connected culture?
  • Who are we building technologies for, and how do we know what they need?
  • How do we measure value in a world where content distribution is free and every person with a digital soap box can reach anyone on the globe in a matter of seconds?
  • How do we use our newfound connectedness to move the whole world forward?

Thank you for reading, for watching, for engaging, and for being you. Happy end of 2016, and I look forward to working with you to build amazing things that make the world a better place for all in 2017.


This post is also available on LinkedIn Pulse.

By Morten Rand-Hendriksen

Morten Rand-Hendriksen is a Senior Staff Instructor at LinkedIn Learning (formerly specializing in AI, bleeding edge web technologies, and the intersection between technology and humanity. He also occasionally teaches at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. He is a popular conference and workshop speaker on all things tech ethics, AI, web technologies, and open source.

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