I am a complete Luddite, as the folks who work for my borg's IT department will eagerly tell you. (No, really. They'll even pay for the drinks if you'll just listen to them tell you stories about "that woman." The sobriquet: "The One Who Gets Hysterical" is not lightly awarded.) Luckily, it's not genetic; G/Son, at 4, manipulates my iPhone and MacBook at will. And, I have friends who are not Luddites, and they remind me every year that March 24th is Ada Lovelace Day.
Who was Ada Lovelace?
Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace was born on 10th December 1815, the only child of Lord Byron [the poet who was "mad, bad, and dangerous to know"] and his wife, Annabella. 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 that Charles Babbage had invented.
Ada had been taught mathematics from a very young age by her mother and met Babbage in 1833. Ten years later she translated Luigi Menabrea’s memoir on Babbage’s Analytical Engine, appending notes that included a method for calculating Bernoulli numbers with the machine – the first computer programme. The calculations were never carried out, as the machine was never built. She also wrote the very first description of a computer and of software.
Understanding that computers could do a lot more than just crunch numbers, Ada suggested that the Analytical Engine “might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.” She never had the chance to fully explore the possibilities of either Babbage’s inventions or her own understanding of computing. She died, aged only 36, on 27th November 1852, of cancer and bloodletting by her physicians.
Thus, March 24th, 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.
I work in a traditionally "male" field. I can only begin to imagine how difficult it is for women who work in technology. And, yet, they keep making brilliant achievements. Here's a new project ready-made for Max Daschu!
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."