Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Shout-Out to Ada Lovelace

I stumbled across a blog post on Boing Boing today that proclaimed "Ada Lovelace needs your support!" This caught my attention. As I read on, I learned that March 24th, 2009 is (the first annual) Ada Lovelace Day.

Who is (or more accurately, who was) Ada Lovelace, you ask? You may know her as Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace... or not. According to Wikipedia, her claim to fame is having written "a description of Charles Babbage's early mechanical general-purpose computer, the analytical engine" (which, in the end, was never actually built) back in the early 19th century.

She is recognized as one of the world's first programmers. It is said that "she also foresaw the capability of computers to go beyond mere calculating or number-crunching while others, including Babbage himself, focused only on these capabilities."

So what is Ada Lovelace Day? Well, Ada Lovelace Day is a day of blogging, specifically blogging that promotes awareness about women in technology. Participants are encouraged to "publish a blog post, video blog or podcast episode about a woman they admire." Why? Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow explains:
Recent research by psychologist Penelope Lockwood discovered that women need to see female role models more than men need to see male ones. But in the tech world women's contributions often go unacknowledged and role models are hard to find. Ada Lovelace Day is a chance for us to sing the praises of the women who make tech tick: entrepreneurs, innovators, sysadmins, programmers, designers, games developers, hardware experts, tech journalists, tech consultants... The list of tech-related careers is almost endless and we want to see examples from all of them!

This initiative appeals greatly to the Third Wave Feminist in me, so I've signed the pledge promising to blog on March 24th in tribute to Ada and all the other technologically inclined women out there. Stay tuned!