Ove Kåven

About me

Mugshot, 2012

Name: Ove Henrik Kåven
Year of birth: 1976
Original home: Karasjok, Norway
Current address: Zürich, Switzerland
Education: M.Sc. Computer Science, M.Sc.(Tech.) Electrical Engineering
Profession: Software Engineer
Current employer: Google
Interests: Technology, Martial arts, Dancing, Writing, Drawing, Learning things

Interviews

I’ve been interviewed by the media a couple of times over the years.

Professional resume (Curriculum Vitae)

I don’t spend much time maintaining my professional resume. But if you want one, you can see the most recent revision here. I also have a LinkedIn profile and a Google+ profile.

The following sections were adapted from information written many years ago. Not everything may be up to date or reflect who I am today.

Childhood

The purpose of my writing is neither bragging nor griping. I do not need your sympathy, recognition, attention, or even respect. The point is only to allow anyone who might be genuinely interested in knowing me, if any, to better understand why I’ve become what I am. I’m also only covering major events here, many relevant details are left out for brevity.

I grew up in the tiny town of Karasjok, where I never really fit in. During my school years, I could never keep any friends (taking collateral damage from all the bullying I was subject to was more than any of them could handle). So, eventually, I learned to live without. (I’ll spare you the details.)

School itself was also too easy and boring to me, so I’ve grown quite good at just sitting alone and let my thoughts wander all over the place. I liked imagining things, coming up with ideas, drawing and writing, building Lego, and often just trying to solve interesting-looking problems. That’s also how I started my career with computers; very early (age 10 or so), I found that in order to solve almost any problem with a computer, I just had to write appropriate programs, and so I did.

At age 14, some of the problems I solved were already interesting to others. And with the motivation of breaking a monopoly that was being exploited, I wrote a competing piece of commercial software (drivers and utilities for writing the Sami language). It was a success, and the previous monopolist went bankrupt. I don’t think I quite understood back then. It felt too easy, and a bit unreal. All I had really wanted was a decent challenge… was this when I also truly began to wonder what I am?

In high school, the trend continued, although my attitude had changed a lot. I no longer put any effort into making friends, but I still liked to solve problems, and it was here I began looking into fixing myself. Among other things, in trying to solve my previous lack of discipline in learning the Sami language, I wrote a dictionary system with built-in grammatical inflection rules. I just did it to help myself learn, but then people saw that it would cover a real need, and suddenly it was sold commercially, along with my previous driver software. (That wasn’t as planned for me; suddenly, my time was spent improving the program for commercial use, instead of actually using it to learn the language properly. Although the experience gave me an advantage that allowed me to score well in the final exam, I still have only basic knowledge of the language today.)

Discovering myself

Though I had a decent job at Arctic Net (which I had myself been part of founding as an ISP during the early Internet boom, but that eventually fused with two other companies and became something else), I soon began wishing for something more, I needed new, fresh challenges. I decided to try attending university. So, in 1999, I was admitted to University of Oslo, where I planned to study natural sciences (primarily physics).

Living in the big city of Oslo was quite different from the tiny town of Karasjok. While it offered me many more opportunities, and was a nice place (to the extent Oslo can be called nice), and I eventually bought an apartment there, it still never quite became a home for me. By 2001, I had also begun working full-time for TransGaming Technologies, and no longer had any interest in continuing my university studies.

During 2002-2004, I cohabited with my then-girlfriend, and we acquired a few cats, which we got to have lots of fun with (including cat shows). Unfortunately, the relationship didn’t work out, and we broke up amiably (but I still miss the cats). It had been a turbulent relationship where I had mostly lost my own identity, but it was still a sad decision to make. I’ve always felt bad that I couldn’t find my place by her side. But in the end, I needed to rebuild an identity of my own, to become who I wanted to be.

There was no reason to stay in Oslo anymore, so in late 2004 I moved to Ottawa, Canada, where I worked for TransGaming at their offices. As time passed, I kept pursuing some dreams of mine, trying to find some peace of mind in my new home. I tried many new things, even learned to dance.

I have many fond memories from those years, and many people I’d like to see again, but ultimately, I failed my quest for peace of mind. Eventually, late 2007, I was burnt out. All those years had turned TransGaming into a corporate juggernaut, it was no longer the idealistic upstart I once joined, and I couldn’t motivate myself enough to continue my employment. So I returned to Norway to try to find some answers to who I really am, and where in the world I might fit in.

In 2009, I moved to Tromsø, Norway, where I studied both Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at the University of Tromsø, though not necessarily with much enthusiasm. I just thought that having a degree or two would give me more options. (Fortunately, these programs also allowed me to put in a number of elective classes that interested me, such as physics and introductory psychology.) To finance these studies, I also got a job at Kongsberg Spacetec, working with satellite imagery. I did a few interesting things there (some of which the media have found interesting).

Present

In 2019, I moved to Zürich, Switzerland, in order to work for Google. It was a big decision, but I felt it was time, at least for now. Among other things, it allows me to try to continue to grow and improve myself as a person, which remains important to me.

Future

My dream is to have a job where I learn new things, see the world, and get to do good things for people. (For example a job at UN.) Still have to figure out what kind of job like that I’d be good at.

But perhaps even more, I wish for a dream I’ve had all my life: somewhere to belong. And I think that it’s not so much a physical place, as a place where heart and mind will meet. A place where everything seems to come together with beauty and simplicity.

Knowing me, it won’t be easy…