Richard fell for technology when he was introduced to the Star Trek Basic game on a PC while still at school.
This latent interest kicked up a gear when Richard was working as an archaeologist in Ecuador. The excavation had a computer specialist setting up databases to record the finds whose work Richard found fascinating.
This led to Richard signing up for a Master of Science degree in Information Technology at Bristol Polytechnic (now the University of the West of England). The degree was part of a government scheme aimed at converting arts degree graduates into technologists.
Richard's learnt fun stuff like coding in COBOL and Assembly language along with design approaches like SSADM. For his dissertation project he produced an Urban Archaeological Database for the Bath Archaeological Trust. This linked database records to three dimensional drawings of the archaeology of Bath using AutoLISP.
After obtaining his MSc IT, Richard found a job at the Avon Family Health Services Authority in Bristol. He installed their first Local Area Network moving the staff from standalone PCs.
He developed software called the Avon Information System (AIS) that took data from the primary care systems run by local health authorities and made this useful for management purposes. The primary databases were written in MUMPS (now "M") on minicomputers. The database structure Richard had designed was eventually moved into the core NHS systems.
Richard continued working in NHS IT until shortly before his election to Parliament in 1997.
Richard was very active on information technology issues during his time as an elected MP from 1997 to 2005. This included sitting on committees scrutinising the Data Protection Act and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.
After leaving Parliament in 2005, Richard took a role working on public policy issues for Cisco, a leading producer of the hardware that powers the Internet. He worked on a broad range of technology policy issues, especially in relation to the regulation of telecoms, largely in European Union countries.
In 2008, Richard chaired a UK Government Taskforce on the "Power of Information" at the invitation of the Cabinet Office. This group was tasked with taking forward recommendations made in a report by Tom Steinberg and Ed Mayo on better use of public information.
In 2009, Richard moved to Facebook, a leading social media company, as their first public policy specialist based outside of the US. He worked on all of the policy issues that Facebook faces as a company for the next 10 years. For most of this time he headed up policy for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region but also advised on issues affecting other regions.