The 24th of March 2010 is Ada Lovelace day. A celebration of women in technology and science named after the famous pioneering computer programmer (she wrote what are regarded as the first computer programs) Ada Lovelace. You can find lots more about the Ada, the day and the woman who launched this all last year, Suw Charman-Anderson over here. On the site you can also to pledge to write a post about your tech heroines on the 24th of March which is exactly what I am doing now. Now I struggled to narrow it down to a single tech heroine so I thought I would take a look at my Twitter stream and focus on some of the brilliant women that educate, entertain and amaze me on a daily basis. But let’s start with the one that started this all…
Suw Charman-Anderson – I first became aware of Suw at the Future Of Web Apps conference in 2008. Suw was a late replacement for someone who had dropped out. Suw stepped in and gave an exceptional talk on the curse of email, its impact on our productivity and how it is essentially a broken form of communication. Suw began her talk and I was confused that no slides were showing, I even told the tech support that there was a problem with the projector only to be told Suw was talking without slides (how innovative and what an idiot I am). The talk was exceptional and resonated strongly with me as someone who works in a large organisation the reliance on email is astonishing. You can read all about that topic in Suw’s article on it in The Guardian. Suw blogs over at http://charman-anderson.com/ with her husband Kevin and you can follow her on Twitter although a slight word of warning she does seem to spend a lot of time talking about her two kittens…but then every genius has their vices.
Tara Hunt – Tara, or as she is more widely known Miss Rogue, is a blogger, author, mother, karaoke addict etc. The reason Tara found her way into my stream was her work on Whuffie. For those who don’t know Whuffie is a fictional currency created by Cory Doctorow in his book Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. The book is set in the not too distant future and cash has been replaced by a form of digital currency that is given (and taken away by others) based on you good/evil deeds. Tara decided to write a book on this subject called The Whuffie Factor which tells the story of erm…Whuffie. Instead of me trying (badly) to do justice to such a fine book why not here Tara herself tell you about it? So I highly recommend you check out Tara’s blog and join the 30,000+ people following her on Twitter for updates on Whuffie, tech and mainly Karaoke.
Kathy Sierra – Now this post is called ‘ladies in the stream’ and up until recently Kathy was one of the most inspirational voices in my stream. Sadly Kathy has recently deleted her Twitter account and taken quite a few steps back from public life, which is a real shame. The reasons for this stem from a series of death threats Kathy received back in 2007 and unsurprisingly sine then she has been a lot more cautious. This is a great loss to the online world and highlights the need for protection from anonymous attackers and the creation of a safer environment for us all to express our thoughts openly. Kathy provided some truly great insight and vision on a range of subjects but mainly around creating passionate users. I urge you to check out her blog which thankfully still exists and I recommend you watch Kathy giving a great talk at FOWA in 2008 about growing and nurturing communities. Hopefully we will see Kathy return to the stream one day soon.
Joanne Jacobs – I met Joanne, albeit briefly, at local BarCamp event Unsheffield. Joanne was single handedly live blogging, video streaming and contributing to sessions without missing a step. You could see that when ever she spoke there was a revered silence as yet another burst of smart and intelligent commentary was shared with the group. I have been following Joanne’s work ever since. Joanne recently gave a great talk on gaming at an event in Exeter called LikeMinds. You can see the talk here and the slides used here. Obviously you should also check out Joannes blog (including her great post on Ada Lovelace day entitled Blasting Myths About Women in Technology) and of course follow her on Twitter.
Victoria Richardson – The last two ladies I will mention in this post are a bit more personal as they are people who have helped me out. First up Victoria who works for Proxama, a company specialising in mobile and contactless technologies and the use cases around them. I am not sure how I came to follow Victoria on Twitter but I am glad it happened as she has been very helpful to me as I research the intriguing and complex world of Near Field Communications. Victoria is always willing to answer questions and share any useful information she has to hand. You can read Victoria’s thoughts on the world of contactless on the Simply In Touch blog.
Jen Goodison – and finally in my ladies in the stream list I have included a colleague (and friend I guess 😉 ) Jen is quite simply one of the smartest people I work with and knows more about databases, logical data models, indexes, SOA and lots more to do with the storage and retrieval of data than I think is healthy but she seems happy enough. As well as trying to teach me about this confusing and (for me) impenetrable world of data she always finds time to review any of my written work and savagely (yet constructively) rips it to shreds with a special focus on my poor use of the English language. For this I am eternally grateful…although I am not sure many of the English lessons stuck e.g. look at this post. You can follow Jen on Twitter and listen to her ramble about architecture and cricket mainly.
So their you have my list of ladies in tech for Ada Lovelace day. All inspiring and thought provoking in their own ways. All worthy of your attention.
If you are in Sheffield this evening you should check out the Ada Lovelace event happening at the Showroom and organised by some inspiring ladies of tech from my hometown.