Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day dithering

A couple of months ago, I signed up to the following:

'I will publish a blog post on Tuesday 24th March about a woman in technology whom I admire' - PledgeBank:
"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. Whatever she does, whether she is a sysadmin or a tech entrepreneur, a programmer or a designer, developing software or hardware, a tech journalist or a tech consultant, we want to celebrate her achievements."

... and the slightly sad fact is that I cannot think of anyone. I don't actually revere any particular person for their role in technology. A quote I remember reading about ten years ago has always stuck with me:

"Over the course of several hundred years new people come along and each lays down a block on the top of the old foundations, each saying, "I build a cathedral". Next month another block is placed atop the previous one. Then come along an historian who asks, "Well who built the cathedral?" Peter added some stones here, and Paul added a few more. If you are not careful, you can con yourself into belief that you did the most important part. But the reality is that each contribution has to follow onto previous work. Everything is tied to everything else."

(Source: Paul Baran cited in "Where Wizards Stay Up Late -- The Origins of the Internet", Hafner and Lyon, 1996)

... and it's true. No one person made 'the' difference which made all the difference. No one woman made 'the' difference. We innovate because others innovated. We are the sum of all that's gone before.

So, while I reconise the difference that some people, women included, have made. And whilst I recognise that women don't have parity in the technological workplace (definitely haven't within any of the tech-type jobs I've had over the past decade or so) and that there is an issue there. I rather like the writing of several women in technology / ed-tech... but I still can't think of a specific woman who I particularly admire above all others.

My Ada Lovelace Day post is going to have to just be a celebration of all those who do help build that cathedral. Who do take what's gone before and push to see where it can take them. Who can stand back and transform ideas into reality. No names. No individuals. Inspiring people are all around us... whether they're male or female. A society in which those innovative, creative voices can be heard. Now that's gotta be worth celebrating.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...