Ada Lovelace Day

Today is Ada Lovelace day, an international day of blogging to celebrate women in technology. Lots more details are available here. I also encourage you to check out today's guest blog post at the UKRC's GetSETWomen blog, which is by Honora Smith, great-great-great niece of Ada.

I've always had an interest in the history of computing, the field to which Ada Lovelace made such a significant contribution, as my parents met while my father was an electrical engineer and my mother an operator on the Mark 1 computer in Manchester back in the 1950s, and they both spent the rest of their working lives in the computing profession.

Back in those days, people who wanted to use the power of computers for their various projects had to learn programming languages such as usercode, Algol, Fortran, Basic and so on. These days, many of us can be "high-level" users, i.e. we don't have to learn the programmes or the technologies to use the tools. I have great admiration for those who do both, so in honour of Ada Lovelace day I will mention a few of those people here – all of whom I have met (most of them in real life) since I started blogging.

Debra Hamel, inventor of many web-technologies involving books and reading, is appropriately interviewed today by Clare Dudman, a distinguished scientific writer and novelist, and keeper of the snails. Debra is perhaps best known for adopting Twitter on day 1 of the service, and developing TwitterLit and its younger relation Kidderlit, daily games which have featured in the mainstream media (The Guardian newspaper, for example). Debra is also founder of one of the earliest book-bloggers' reading festivals, the quarterly Buy a Friend a Book week. Full details at Clare's excellent interview, which reveals others of Debra's talents. Debra runs several blogs, but her "main" one, if that is a fair description, is the Deblog.

Karen Meek, as well as being a librarian professional, created and maintains the Euro Crime website. This wonderful resource is a database of original reviews of European crime fiction (new reviews are added every week), much of it in translation, as well as a complete bibliography of the very many authors writing books in the genre, with links to their websites. Euro Crime also features news, events, a blog and other information about European crime fiction and, occasionally, science fiction (with an accent on Dr Who). As well as being a considerable, and free to use, technical achievement in its own right, Euro Crime brings together those who love the genre, and is a fantastic resource for any potential reader wishing to broaden her or his horizons. 

Steffi Suhr writes a blog called Science Behind the Scenes, about people in science but also very much about those behind the science, who help to make it possible, whether in support roles, in management, publishing or other. The accent is on marine and polar science, so readers truly get a sense of the technologies and efforts involved in doing research – all told with Steffi's good humour and positive outlook. She herself juggles a demanding job as an editor for a German scientific publisher, a challenging family life (her partner is away for long periods of time), running marathons, and her passion for the communication of science. Her blog conveys a wonderful enthusiasm for technology, and her descriptions allow one to understand these sometimes complex subjects almost without realising it. I wish more scientists would write blogs like Steffi's; she is a great example and role model – just check out her blog and scroll down the variety of descriptions, interviews and stories, to see what I mean.