Who’s Ada Lovelace and what’s this day all about?
“Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. Women’s contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised. We want you to tell the world about these unsung heroines.”
Who was Ada?
“Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, born in 1815, was the only child of Lord Byron. Born Augusta Ada Byron, but now known simply as Ada Lovelace, she wrote the world’s first computer programmes for the Analytical Engine, a general-purpose machine invented by Charles Babbage.”
Why am I here?
I’m not really sure how I ended up being an ICT Development Officer, it was never planned. I really wanted to be a forensic scientist but couldn’t face doing a chemistry degree for 3 years … so I chose maths instead.
My dad is an engineer and for as long as I can remember has been tinkering with things. He let me loose on his soldering iron when I was pretty young and I used to help out when he was rewiring the house.
All the tinkering left me pretty fearless when it came to playing with technology and as a result I was usually (and still am) the “accidental techie”. My last job included 2 office moves where I had to disconnect and reconnect everything and get it working again, luckily both were successful.
Now I work with technology full time and I really enjoy helping other organisations see how it can help them to do things better or just a bit differently.
So what about today?
I wanted to take the opportunity of Ada Lovelace day to highlight some of the women who tech here at NCVO and ask them what they think about technology.
NCVO is full of women, in fact 67% of staff here are women so we do lots of techie jobs like; web editing, e-communications, ICT capacity building, creating multi media content, writing about new technologies and managing websites.
Here’s a few of the things that the women at NCVO said about technology:
- What are the technologies you use every day and how do they help you do your work?
“I use email all the time to communicate with colleagues, discuss ideas, share links. I also use twitter to keep in touch with people outside of the organisation and update on what we’re doing. I use delicious most days to save links. I am chained to my computer…”
“My computer is my key tool but my iPod helps me get through the day. I use email and twitter to keep in touch, delicious to share information, this blog to talk about what I’m doing, the web (and bloglines) to learn new things and doodle to organise our netball matches.”
“Web to keep up to date with what’s happening via blogs, news alerts, upcoming events, partner websites etc and source information. I like Facebook in terms of using it where and when it’s appropriate but personally, I’ve been peer pressured into signing up. Since moving to London, I look at the weather forecast way too much!!!”
“Online – twitter, blogs, Facebook etc. Mostly it’s all about keeping in touch, making new contacts, getting the latest news quickly, being able to respond. All this is also a hindrance. I find it difficult to switch off from it all and to focus on one thing and it becomes obsessive and habitual!”
- How do you think developments in technology will change the way you work over the next couple of years?
“I hope it will allow us to work more flexibly, share/learn regardless of geographical location and bring us closer together – especially with the global challenges we collectively face. I think most people are already bombarded with so much information – hopefully technology will value how precious time is and allow us to opt in or out as we want. I think it will be empowering rather than overwhelming.”
“We’re already seeing it happen but I definitely think the way we work is going to change dramatically, in terms of physically where we work, who we work with and how we work with them. As we move to doing more online we are going to have to rethink job roles to reflect these new skills.”
“I hope that I will be able to share and collaboratively gather together more sources and intelligence. I hope to be able to broaden our pools of intelligence by following trails of recommendations through blogs and twitter. I hope to be able to work more flexibly, taking advantage of WiFi to work in different environments that are more conducive to different activities (e.g. writing, or thinking, or planning, or discussing)”
“I have to say it will continue to speed things up and will mean that we will need to be able to respond more quickly, to adapt more quickly and to be very open minded about how we engage. I think we will also find that there’s a backlash against the rampant marketing online and hopefully technology will be put to good uses and be used as a force for good more than it is currently. I wonder if things will be more closely controlled? Marketing to children for example.”
- What’s your favourite piece of technology and why?
“I love a laptop with WiFi capabilities because I love the idea that work is something that is done in a range of environments, either on your own or with others, rather than being associated with a desk in a corner of an office!”
“My computer would rate pretty highly but in terms of the things that keep me going I’d have to say my phone, I can talk to my friends and family on it and listen to Radio 4 through it when I’m out and about, in a perfect world I would have an iPhone and it would do all of these things and more. At the moment I couldn’t be without my DVD player that is letting me watch all 5 series of The Wire.”
“I am still utterly and completely in love with my iPod. I can’t bear to be away from it. Having all my music with me is amazing and liberating.”
“My iPod. I can take on the world when I’m listening to the presets”
- Who are the women in tech/science you admire and why?
“I am ashamed to say that I don’t have that many to choose from as I don’t know that many. But I would say that my ultimate heroes are astronauts so:
“One of the people I admire is Sophie Germain. Sophie was a mathematician in the 19th century and when she started studying she had to hide the fact that she was a woman because they weren’t allowed to enroll in the university. She made some key discoveries in the world of number theory and her work fed into the proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem.”
“I love that [technology] allows discovery, discussion and (almost) equal access to information.”
More information about Ada Lovelace day and women in technology