Our 2019 Tool Fund Grantee Profile series shines a light on individuals and organizations that are building open source tooling for reproducible research using the Frictionless Data specifications and software.

Stephan Max

Tool Fund Grantee - Stephan Max

Stephan Max

This grantee profile features Stephan Max for our series of Frictionless Data Tool Fund posts, written to shine a light on Frictionless Data’s Tool Fund grantees, their work and to let our technical community know how they can get involved.

Meet Stephan Max

Hi, my name is Stephan Max and I am a computer scientist based in Cologne, Germany. I’ve been in the industry for over 10 years now and worked for all kinds of companies, ranging from own startup (crowd-funded online journalism), over big corporate (IBM), to established African business data startup (Asoko Insight). I am now a filter engineer at eyeo trying to make the web a fair, open, and safe place for everybody.

I love working with kids and teenagers, cooking, and doing music—I just recently started drum lessons!

How did you first hear about Frictionless Data?

I’ve been following the work of the Open Knowledge Foundation for a while now and contributed to the German branch as a mentor for the teenage hackathon weekends project “Jugend Hackt” (Youth Hacks). I first heard about the Frictionless Data program when the OKF announced funding by the Sloan Foundation in 2018. After watching Serah Njambi Rono’s talk on Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ranx9Jz0Ro) and reading about the Reproducible Research Tool Fund on Twitter, I knew I wanted to contribute.

Why did you apply for a Tool Fund grant?

I first heard about the concepts and challenges around Reproducible Research when taking the MOOC “Data Science” from Johns Hopkins University on Coursera. Since I had my fair share of work inside proprietary data formats and tools, I was happy to see that there are people out there making serious efforts to remedy the loss of attribution and data manipulation steps. After browsing through OKF’s Frictionless Data website, I was even happier that there are actual tools, libraries, and standards already available. Applying for the tool fund and contributing my own humble idea was a no-brainer for me.

What specific issues are you looking to address with the Tool Fund?

My goal is to add a Data Package import/export add-on to Google Sheets. I understand that a lot of data wrangling is still done in Sheets, Excel, and files being swapped around. A lot of information is lost that way. Where did the data initially come from? How was it manipulated, cleaned, or otherwise altered? How can we feed spreadsheets back into a Reproducible Research pipeline? I think Data Packages is a brilliant format to model and preserve exactly that information. While I do not want to lure people away from the tools they are already familiar with, I think we can bridge the gap between Google Sheets and Frictionless Data by making Data Packages a first-class citizen.

How can the open data, open source, community engage with the work you are doing around Frictionless Data Google Sheets add-on?

I think open source and data is a unique and wonderful opportunity to get access to the “wisdom of the crowd” and ensure that software and information is and remains accessible to everyone. In the first few weeks I will focus on getting a first prototype and sufficient documentation up, so you can all play with the Data Package import/export add-on as soon as possible. After that, I invite you to take a look at our Github repository (https://github.com/frictionlessdata/googlesheets-datapackage-tools), play around with the tool, and contribute. Raising an issue, opening a pull request, improving the documentation, giving feedback on the user experience—everything counts! I am so stoked to be part of this Frictionless Data journey and can’t wait to see what we will accomplish. Thank you very much in advance!

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