DataCite is pleased to welcome Richard Hallett to our team. Richard joined DataCite as application developer in December. Get to know him better via this interview.
Can you tell us a little bit about what you did before you started working for DataCite?
I’ve been working in software development for a variety of different organisations and industries over the years, from large multinational companies, to small web agencies, to not for profits and then back into the commercial sector with e-commerce.
Most recently I worked on delivering a platform that provided services to retailers for their respective online presences, this involved a lot of technology challenges from high availability of services to handling new requirements from constant market changes.
What lessons learned from working in the e-commerce sector could benefit DataCite?
Availability is key in e-commerce, your services have to be up, any downtime is potential lost sales and unhappy customers. For DataCite I think the important bit here is the unhappy customers, having a mindset of ensuring you provide the best possible service to your end users is key regardless of domain. In the technology aspect a lot is very transferable, for example, a key component of e-commerce is searchable product data, this mirrors very nicely to the search services DataCite provides.
What interested you in the job at DataCite? Any particular problems that you would like to work on?
I’ve always had a deep interest in technology and how it can be used to solve a variety of problems in different domains, DataCite struck me as a forward thinking organization that embraces technology to deliver its services.
Given my background is one primarily in software development, I really like the fact that DataCite is a proponent of open source and I really hope we can work in helping the wider technology community which in turn helps DataCite achieve its own goals.
I also think the work done by DataCite to help connect researchers with data fits nicely with my own personal ideas of sharing data and providing access to content, helping people solve problems in a variety of fields.
Being relatively new to the world of Open Science and Open Data, what is your initial impression?
I think what’s great is the core principles of being open and collaborative really seem embedded in a lot of what I’ve seen so far and the people I’ve met across different organisations seem more of a community than competition.
What aspects of application development are you particularly interested in?
I like to solve problems, preferably the ones that are complex large architectural multi-user problems, but I’m equally at home solving a small thing that helps just a few. I try whenever I’m developing to reduce complexity when possible, to ensure simplicity in both usability and maintainability, the latter being especially important for other developers but also my future self.
How could we reduce complexity in how we register, manage and provide DOIs and associated metadata?
That’s a really hard question, I think the important thing is to be pragmatic about the services offered but also consistency, one quote I’ve always liked was “There should be one and preferably only one, obvious way to do it” I think this can be applied to all kinds of things, in this case providing a cohesive product offering for DOI services. I also think in tandem to reducing complexity of our own services, there is room for more outreach to help others build tools upon our services, either through technology provided by us or outreach workshops.
Any particular programming language and/or framework you would like to learn/understand better while working at DataCite?
I’ve recently taken an interest in functional programming, it’s a very different way of solving problems but one that I think can provide a lot of benefits, I hope I can learn more about this and ways we can use functional techniques to improve DataCite’s services.