PEOPLE | May 4, 2019

The profession of Web & Blockchain Researcher: the story of Ferdinando Bosco

Open to change, solid technical bases and a desire to experiment. This is the calling card of those who work with a technology that is revolutionizing the new digital age

“I’m a web developer, an engineer in computer science and a new technologies enthusiast”. This is how Ferdinando Bosco introduces himself on LinkedIn; a researcher specialized in web development and Blockchain, who joined Engineering in 2012, after an internship in the company and obtaining a degree in Computer Engineering. “I can’t consider myself a classic developer – Ferdinando immediately specifies – because I also do a lot of research. I work on European projects, in particular in the energy and media industry, and I have been dealing with Blockchain for a couple of years now”.

Did a university education help your career?

“At University, the focus is mainly on theoretical notions, whilst in the company, there are practical applications of what we have studied. Although, without these bases that some call abstract, it is not possible to do this job well. In fact, it is thanks to university that I acquired the indispensable problem-solving capacity and the ability to always look for new things, be these technologies, languages or the techniques required to carry out my profession better. If I were to give advice to a young person who would like to deal with technology development or research, I would say choose a scientific degree, with engineering as first choice”.

What is the best part of this job? And the most difficult part?

“I believe that the best part is linked to the continuous need to change, to tackle new things, to learn unknown languages. Work is never the same and there is a strong drive for continuous improvement. Obviously, you must be able to put into practice what you learn, especially when the deadline for a delivery is approaching and the pace of work intensifies. The most difficult part, therefore, is knowing how to get organized in order to balance continuous training with the need to comply with deadlines”.

 

What does a researcher specialized in web development and Blockchain do during the day?

“The activity of a researcher mainly focuses on projects, which usually last from 1 to 3 years and include collecting the requirements, the design, the software development, drawing up documents and meetings, both online and physical. Each researcher carries out different roles; I in particular deal with the design and development of web technologies and Blockchain, but I also take part in drawing up documents and in meetings.

The remaining part of the time is dedicated to studying and to researching information which is useful both for current activities and for drawing up new projects: the study of new and innovative technologies must in fact be followed by an in-depth analysis aimed at applying what was found. These research activities, together with a continuous debate with colleagues, partners, and groups of experts who meet on the Net, allow staying informed and up-to-date”.

What does dealing with Blockchain mean today?

“Fortunately, I’ve been working on Blockchain since before it came into fashion. The thing that immediately struck me most about this technology is the possibility of enabling a democratic process. It made me think of the Web: this too has no central authority and has developed in an autonomous, democratic and transparent way like Blockchain. The areas of application today are endless: they range from finance to the energy sector, from PAs to media. In any process where there is a need to certify a passage, so that there is no possibility of tampering, you can think of Blockchain. For example, it can be applied to reading meters or to certifying documents to be filed. We are only at the beginning: we will have to discover many other aspects of this technology to make it really useful and attractive, beyond any current fashion”. 

Therefore, one can say that this technology is setting important challenges…

“Blockchain is one of the technologies that is most revolutionizing the new digital age and has a range of basically infinite applications. Its potential has not yet been fully exploited and working in this area makes you feel part of a change that is still happening and which could have a huge impact in the years to come. The challenge is not simple, as the technology is very advanced and quite complex, but studying and experimenting the Blockchain technology in the field can give tremendous satisfaction”.

Can you tell us about one of the projects you’re following?

“At the moment I am working on eDream, a European project in the energy field: in this case Blockchain is applied both for certifying data coming from smart meters, the so-called smart meters that record the energy produced and consumed by a user in a secure and transparent manner, and for the management of a distributed marketplace, which offers flexibility and Demand/Response services within the smart grid”.

What do you need to do your job?

“As already mentioned, the essential difference between a classical developer and a researcher, is knowing how to adapt to change. Each project brings along new ideas, both in terms of design and of development, so it is essential to know different programming languages and technological solutions, even if not in-depth, and to be able to specialize on each occasion as quickly as possible. As for me, I’ve learned to use most web programming languages, like JavaScript, Python, PHP and the related frameworks (AngularJS, Django, Laravel), several more advanced Blockchain technologies, such as Ethereum, Multichain, Hyperledger. Then, obviously, you need to have a good command of the English language, because development activities are flanked by meetings with European partners and we produce documents in English as a result of our work”.

Which sites, blogs, news do you consult every day?

“If we are talking of Blockchain, for sure Coindesk, one of the most famous international websites on the subject. Then Eu Blockchain Forum, the official EU observatory on Blockchain and Cryptominando, an Italian website where it is possible to consult very useful technical guides. A must for web programming, where technical articles and guides are found and which I consult is Scotch.io. I often also consult the Netflix technology blog a cutting-edge company which is committed to making all its technological experience on the web open source and which served as an inspiration for one of our projects”.

The title of a book you would keep on your bedside table?

“On my bedside table I usually keep adventure or fantasy novels, my favorites. But to those who wish to approach this profession I absolutely suggest reading Clean Code. A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship by Robert Martin and Design Patterns – Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software by the Gang of Four, aka Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson and John Vlissides. As for Blockchain technology, a fantastic book I read is The truth machine. The Blockchain and the Future of Everything by Michael Casey, which approaches this new technology and its technological revolution from an alternative point of view”.