Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Ada Lovelace Day

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, which is a day when we celebrate women in tech. I'd personally like to see more women in tech, particularly in programming, predominantly because I believe in the power of diversity in general. I believe that the best way to solve problems is to bring as many different viewpoints and backgrounds into the equation. It combats what I see as the natural human tendency to seek out those who agree with you, to seek the comfort of the echo-chamber, which is often a path to mediocrity. And diversity tends towards a more interesting workplace.

So, I have a conundrum. There are two women in particular that I find incredibly inspiring. Which do I pick? No problem - I pick both!

Kathy Sierra is one of the most inspirational speakers I've ever seen, and ran a fantastic blog until 2007 (still worth looking back through it - all very relevant). She worked for Sun - obviously a male dominated organisation - for several years, and took on the tremendous challenge of making technology accessible to, and understandable by, everyone. She participated in one of this year's most interesting panels at SXSW, about presentation techniques. It hasn't been uploaded to the SXSW youtube channel yet, but it's well worth watching out for. She doesn't have her blog anymore (long story), but you can follow her on Twitter.

The other woman up there with Kathy is danah boyd (her choice not to capitalise). She's done a lot of research about how teenagers use the web, and represents the voice of reason and clarity in a world where people make far too many sweeping generalisations. She also participated in one of the best panels at SXSW ("Everything I Needed to Know About the Web I Learned from Feminism"). Her recent dissertation (Taken Out of Context: American Teen Sociality in Networked Publics) is required reading if you'd like to engage with this important audience. Her blog is awesome, and she's also on twitter.

Yay, ladies!

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