Ada Lovelace wrote the world’s first computer program in 1843. The computer on which the program would have run, Charles Babbage‘s Analytical Engine, was never built, though Babbage continued with his designs until his death and is remembered as the father of computers. The purpose of Ada Lovelace Day is to sing the achievements of women in technology and science – often their contributions go unnoticed.
On Ada Lovelace Day, today, anyone and everyone is encouraged to blog, podcast, videocast, tweet about the achievements of a woman in technology and science.
I met Laura Czajkowski last September when part of the Ubuntu UK Podcast team shipped off to Dublin to attend her OssBarCamp conference, have a weekend of geekery, and an evening of BBQ and cocktails. Since then, I’ve seen Laura working passionately to help kickstart the Ubuntu Women Project and I’m aware that she is also on the Ubuntu NGO project which looks at how to make it as easy as possible for charities, not-for-profits, and other NGOs to benefit from Ubuntu and Open Source Software.
After I tweeted a few weeks back that I was working on OggCamp10 planning stuff, she replied, offering her help. I wasn’t sure how serious she was but as we had a load of large tasks that needed doing around that time, I figured it was worth asking. Within a week, she was a fully signed-up member of the OggCamp planning team (ie she gets all the emails and can edit the wiki), despite having her own conference to organise as well. OMG Ubuntu published a great interview with her today.
Another ace woman I met in Dublin that weekend was Ana Nelson, who Laura had finally convinced to present about her documentation automation work. I swear (as a former technical writer), the stuff she develops on should be used by corporations everywhere to maintain their vast documentation libraries and to save their skillful writers from spending hours manually updating screenshots and code snippets. Her talk at OssBarCamp was fascinating and understated – she sat on a chair, speaking her way round a printed, illustrated mindmap, punctuating it all with physical props like wooden toys and knitting needles. Her tweets are no less insightful, witty, and slightly off-beat.
So they’re just two of the women in the Open Source world (in particular, the Irish Open Source world) who’ve inspired me recently. Go check out their blogs to find out more.