TRIPLE: Behind the Scenes #7: Luca de Santis
In the series “TRIPLE: Behind the Scenes”, we feature individual staff members from the TRIPLE project team to give a face to the people behind the scenes. What is their role in the project, their background, and how did they get in touch with the Open Science movement?
This time, we introduce you to Luca de Santis. Luca works at Net7, a software development SME (Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise) whose core business is the development of applications for the web using open source technologies. With extensive experience in the analysis and design of web solutions using open source software, the organisation has a strong interest in the research domain, in particular the Semantic Web.
Luca, what is your role in the TRIPLE project?
Some of these services are developed within the TRIPLE consortium, namely the Recommender, the Trust Building System, the Visualization and Discovery System and the Open Annotation Tool. Others consist of existing apps/services that will be integrated during the course of the project (in particular the Crowdfunding tool for social sciences and humanities projects).
The Open Annotation Tool that has been mentioned above is based on the Pundit service, which is developed by my company Net7, so I’m involved, as a software architect/analyst, in its development as well. Pundit is a web annotation tool that allows users to “take notes” on web resources, in the form of highlights, comments and also semantic annotations, that is, formal statements declared as “semantic triples” that can be also exported as Linked Data. It’s super cool (but I’m VERY biased…)!
Last but not least, I’m the (un)official TRIPLE Café Playlist selector, so if you fancy checking the music we listen to while working for TRIPLE, just follow the Twitter hashtag: #TripleCaféPlaylist (and TRIPLE Partners, don’t be shy and send me your favourite music for the forthcoming playlists!).
What is your background in terms of previous work experience and academic discipline, and which specific perspective(s) does that background contribute to TRIPLE? You may also mention when you first heard about “Open Science” in your career, and how you “got into it”.
I have a degree in Computer Science from the University of Pisa, Italy. I’ve been working in Information Technology sector in various roles since 1993, which means that I am one of the oldest members of the TRIPLE team…!
I joined Net7 in 2010, becoming some years later the company’s Chief Technology Officer (and a partner, but that’s another story). Very recently I decided to focus myself more on research projects (first and foremost TRIPLE!) and stepped back from the CTO role.
Being a software engineer, I cannot but associate the term “Open Science” with “Open Source software”, which I’ve been involved in since the early 2000s: on the one hand, reading “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” by Eric Raymond was a huge influence; more pragmatically, I had experienced many “horror stories” by using commercial (closed) software in the heydays of the New Economy. The possibility to access the code, the maximum flexibility for customisations and especially the presence of a vibrant and enthusiastic community of developers is a huge advantage for every IT Company and in particular for SMEs like Net7.
Since then I have always tried to be “a good citizen” of the Open Source community: I participated in the launch of a couple of projects (even before joining Net7) and contributed in various forms to existing initiatives, but to be honest I have received much more than I have given from the Open Source movement.
What are you currently working on in the TRIPLE project?
Now in September we are all quite busy because at the end of the month there are some major deadlines. On the one hand, I’m writing and reviewing a bunch of deliverables (and that is not very sexy…), plus I’m supervising the work of the Net7 team, both for releasing incrementally new features in Pundit (coming soon: semantic annotations, social interactions, support for annotating PDF and Hypothes.is interoperability) and for developing the content acquisition platform of the GoTriple Core, which allows to fetch content from various web sources.
I have also started to plan some serious wine tasting events if (Covid allows!) we are able to do “a real” work package leaders meeting in Pisa at the end of September, so that I can finally demonstrate the superiority of Italian wines over French ones…
How has the pandemic changed your working routines in the TRIPLE project?
Well, pandemic “working routines” were (let’s start to use the “past tense”, shall we???) as crazy for me as for everybody. Or better, it was really impossible to have a “routine” and I had to adjust quickly to the ever-changing situation (for this, being an “adaptable” Italian helps a lot…).
Regarding TRIPLE, I must admit that this is a special project, because despite the lack of physical meetings, a very healthy and stimulating team spirit was born amongst the project partners. This allows us to collaborate through online channels very effectively, to work hard together, to devise interesting solutions, to let stimulating ideas flow back and forth amongst us, without losing the chance to have a laugh!
I assume that the pandemic situation helped us to cement this team spirit, because it really feels like being “in this together”. But I definitely look forward to the moment when we all can meet in person (with wine!)…
Luca, thank you so much for the interview!
The TRIPLE project is funded by the European Commission, under Grant Agreement No. 863420. Project coordinator is Suzanne Dumouchel (Huma-Num), Co-coordinator of OPERAS. For more information please contact her at Suzanne.Dumouchel[at]huma-num.fr.