Originally, I am a mathematician (graduated at the Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest, Hungary, in 1979), but I turned into a computer scientist after my graduation. I joined the Computing and Automation Institute (SZTAKI) of Budapest in 1979. I then left Hungary in 1986; after having spent 3 years in a software house called “Insotech Consult GmbH” (which, unfortunately, went down the drain since…) in Munich, Germany, I joined the Centrum Wiskunde and Informatica (Centre for Mathematics and Computer Sciences, CWI) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 1988 as a senior researcher. I’ve received a PhD degree in Computer Science in 1990 at the University of Leiden, in the Netherlands. All in all, I spent 21 years as a “traditional” computer science researcher, working mainly in computer graphics and information visualization. I then joined the staff of the World Wide Web Consortium (while maintaining my position at CWI), in January 2001, where I served as Head of Offices until June 2006. Between June 2006 and September 2013 I was Semantic Web Activity Lead, and I am currently the technical lead of the Publishing@W3C Initiative. If you want more details on my professional life, you can look at my “professional” CV.
I divide up my time between my home in a suburb of Amsterdam called Amstelveen and my home in Aix-en-Provence, France.
I am married, and have a grown-up son, David. My wife, Éva, is a historian. She received the degree of Doctor Habilitata (Dr. Habil) by the University of Pécs (Hungary) in 2007. She gave a number of courses at the Corvinus University of Budapest, as well as at the Faculty of Law of the Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest. David has finished his Master’s studies at the Conservatory of Amsterdam as a classical pianist, an MBA in Culture Management from the University of Antwerpen, and also a Master’s degree in European Union Studies from the Centre international de formation européenne.
You may wonder about my nationality: well, I was born in Hungary and lived there until 1986 but, due to a complicated family background, I am a mixture of French and Hungarian. I hold both passports, my bedtime stories were in French, I made all my studies in Hungarian, I have family in both places… As you may imagine, this was still a bit of a touchy situation until the end of the 80’s but, thanks to the changes in the 90's, today it is merely a curiosity. It is difficult to say which country I really “belong” to, obviously. Although I am probably a bit more Hungarian than French, nevertheless the easiest is to say that I am a European, and that’s about it (although I am emotionally more bound to Aix-en-Provence these days). As for my age: well, I am well over 60 now…
In my free time I love reading literature of all kinds. I also love listening to music. I’m primarily a classical music fan (although, I must admit, my taste seems to be incompatible with most of contemporary classical music). But not only; I like jazz, blues, and I still love to listen to some of the jazz-rock music of my youth. I’ve also discovered traditional Indian music, which is indeed fantastic to listen to. I am very interested in history and in politics; wherever I am, I try to keep up with the news, I also try to understand local history, cultural backgrounds, etc. I must say that one of the many exciting aspects of my current job is to work with an incredible wide range of people. (W3C has offices more than 17 different countries from Australia to the United Kingdom, and from Morocco to Korea; there are also around 10-15 different nationalities represented in the W3C staff to which I belong! I am proud to have friends in such different places as the USA, France, China, or Japan…).
Art in general, primarily literature, architecture, classical painting, or sculptures, are among my favorite pass time. I am blessed to belong to cities that have wonderful, though different, architectures; and I try never to miss the opportunity to visit architectural landmarks or major musea when I travel. I also discovered Asian art (mainly Chinese, Korean, or Japanese painting, but also Indian and Indonesian sculptures, for example) a few years ago although I am very, very far from being a connoisseur. The classical Book of the Tea by Kakuzo Okakura was probably one of the readings which made me discover that world, and my numerous trips to East Asia since have enriched me tremendously. I believe there are lots of things we in the West ought to learn from there. (I even got inspired by it in my professional life: some times ago I published a paper with a colleague on what we called “Minimal Graphics” in an IEEE journal. Originally, we wanted to start a European Union research project on this, but it was turned down as industrially irrelevant…). I am also quite fond of the Australian Aboriginal Art although, again, I am really only a naïve amateur. But what I saw when I was lucky enough to go to Australia is breathtaking.
I like traveling which is, luckily, also part of my job. I also like photography, so whenever I can, I “steal” some time on my trips to take some pictures. I have put most of my photos on line, and a small subset is also on flickr:My email is ‘ivan’ on the ‘ivan-herman.net‘ domain. I also have a public FOAF file.