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Back to the future. Meet our new developer, Daniel

From gaming to implementations, developer Daniel Read joins Sourcefabric | Luis Llerena (CC BY 1.0)
From gaming to implementations, developer Daniel Read joins Sourcefabric | Luis Llerena (CC BY 1.0)

Among a few new wonderful additions to our Sourcefabric family in the past months, there is Daniel Read. He has recently joined our Implementations team in Berlin as a developer. When you ask Daniel where he has lived, he might take a while to answer. Originally from the UK, he left in 2003 and has since spent at least half a year in six different countries on three continents. Before returning to Berlin, he also tried Vancouver (Canada), Melbourne (Australia), and Vienna (Austria), and spent a couple of summers working with bicycles in rural areas of Italy and France.

You have lived in six different countries on three continents. How has all this moving influenced the way you look at things?
I don’t consider myself too adventurous as the standards of living and cultures in all those countries are quite similar, but I have enjoyed experiencing the differences, learning what’s common and what’s peculiar, and recognising that what I like and what I don’t are often quite closely related.

Tell us a bit more about your professional background. What did you do before joining Sourcefabric?
My first degree was what Americans might call a liberal arts degree, but most of the courses I took were in the Media and Cultural Studies Department. Back in the early 90’s, the potential of computers and networking was only just about to start to be realised. Fortunately, my personal tutor was very forward thinking, which influenced me to develop an interest in artificial intelligence, and then to study if for a year at Sussex University, one of best places for it in the UK. I then got into the games industry, with very little experience as a programmer, which wouldn’t be possible today. I learned a lot on the job in what were relatively very demanding environments.

What was the favourite game you worked on?
I worked on a series of football games while with Sony, which were like FIFA and Pro Evolution, and sold quite well, if not as well as those two. Actually, one version, with Michael Ballack on the cover, outsold both in Germany somehow. Anyway, being a bit of football fan, it was fun for me to try to create a convincing simulation of how real football teams play. I read quite a lot about the Dutch concept of Total Football espoused by the Ajax and Netherlands teams of the early 70’s, and later taken to Barcelona by Johann Cruyff. Descriptions do read like a surprisingly small collection of algorithms. Data is already widely used in the professional game to inform the tweaking of tactics, and I guess that one day managers will use simulations to explore the potential of possible changes, if they don’t already.

What brought you from gaming to Sourcefabric?
Interesting as it was to develop games, I was never really much of a gamer myself, so I always felt like a bit of an outsider in the industry, and lacked intrinsic motivation, which is not great when you often have to work long hours. And web-based applications have become a lot more complex and widely used in recent years. I was already working on browser games, so it was not too difficult for me to switch to web development. With my background in Media Studies, and interest in the forecasts of a digital revolution twenty odd years ago, joining Sourcefabric has felt a little bit like coming back to the future.

What makes you excited about Sourcefabric’s mission and work?
I am very passionate about journalism and freedom of speech, and of course, it’s great to be able to work with colleagues from all over the world who are too.

What would be the one piece of advice that you would share with any young programmer today?
Always expect the Spanish Inquisition. And a Monty Python reference from an English nerd of a certain age.

What do you like to do when you’re not sitting at the computer?
I’m very much into literature. I read a lot of fiction and non-fiction. I’ve been working on a novel for a long time, and am planning to finish it by the end of this year. Not for the first time. People often say to me that I could keep working on it forever, and that’s true, but I’ve started to feel that it might be good enough now, in a way that I hadn’t before.

Oh, wow, and what’s the book about?
It’s about a rave in a pair of terraced houses on the shortest night of 1992. More abstractly, it’s about being young, idealistic, and in love. If no publisher wants it, I will probably try to publish it myself.

Maybe with Booktype?

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