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Ada Lovelace Day

As an intelligent human being, I am, quite frankly, horrified by the idea of Ada Lovelace Day. I also wonder whether Ada Lovelace herself would be too.

Why do we need a special day “to draw attention to the achievements of women in technology and science”. To me, that’s a caveat that screams “women are not good enough”. The only way to equality is to stop treating women differently. That means we don’t need separate days, groups, awards, events and so on, just for women. We need to make sure women are part of the existing days, groups, awards and events in the name of technology and science, not in the name of gender.

I read with similar horror recently of Geek Girl Dinners, as there is talk of setting them up in Birmingham. This is what they are about:

The Girl Geek Dinners were founded on the 16th August 2005 as a result of one girl geek who got annoyed and frustrated about being one of the only females attending technical events. She was tired of being assumed to be marketing, tired of constantly having to prove herself and decided that she just wanted a change and to be treated just the same as any other geek out there, gender and age aside.

Couldn’t her experience of technology events simply be the one that the vast majority of people feel when attending events, regardless of gender or subject? It’s quite nerve-wracking for everyone going to an event on their own, perhaps she just needs someone to go with (male or female).  I have plenty of male friends who are equally terrified turning up to technology events.

We all judge people on their appearance whether we like it or not. I’m sure my brain subconsciously tries to distinguish the males that were are in marketing or whatever at such an event. Your brain naturally tries to categorise things to cope with the volume of information it receives. It’s only by talking to people that you can find out who they really are.

And all humans feel the need to ‘prove themselves’ among their peers, don’t they?

If I’m at a technology event and I feel that someone is not taking me seriously, I just dismiss their opinion as not valid and go and talk to someone else.

What does it say about us if we feel we always have to be surrounded by our own kind?!

The answer to discrimination (or perceived discrimination) is not segregation. Organising events by any criteria other than interest is a bit old fashioned isn’t it?

As for there not being many women at technology events, could this just be that women are naturally less inclined to be interested (I’m sure someone has done some research into this). If it is the case that women do want to get involved in science and technology, but are afraid to, then this probably needs to be tackled at school age.

Let’s stop obsessing about what gender people are and, like Ada, just get on with it. I really hope there is no need for an Ada Lovelace day next year, and if there is, that it is a celebration of her life and work as a scientist, not a female scientist.

Final plinth info

This will probably be my last post before I go on the Fourth Plinth on Tuesday (4th August) at 6am for an hour.

This is what I’m hoping to do, weather and technology permitting!:

I am hoping to play a simplified version of Pictionary on the Plinth. I am taking a small whiteboard on a stand and will draw pictures for Twitter users to guess. Please send me ideas of what to draw in advance. You will be able to guess by sending me a tweet to @catnip, the first to guess correctly wins kudos.

I think there may be a delay on the live stream at oneandother.co.uk, so my plan is to broadcast my own live video stream via Qik or Bambuser. I have borrowed an N95 to do this (thanks @podnosh), but my tests have not worked very well on 3G. If there is wifi available in the Square, I think it should work well, if not I might not be able to get it to work.

If my own mobile web stream doesn’t work, I will try doing Pictionary just over the normal stream. If there is a long delay it might cause problems.

If the Pictionary idea doesn’t work, I will just try and talk to people via Twitter, type @catnip at the start of your tweet and I will see it, you can also include #catnipplinth in your tweet. I am hoping to display all tweets containing the hashtag #catnipplinth on a laptop screen, I’m not sure how well the cameras will pick up this up, but you can see the same thing yourself at http://visibletweets.com/#query=%23catnipplinth

Whatever happens, I will be live tweeting my hour. I hope to tweet a few pictures too. Even if you are not a Twitter user, you can still see what I am saying by going to twitter.com/catnip. If you do want to set up a Twitter account, here is a beginners’ guide to Twitter.

These are all the links you might need:

One and Other home page with live web stream

My One and Other Profile page (please leave me a comment or pledge!)

My Twitter stream

Visible Tweets display of #catnipplinth

Should I retire from the Twitter police?

A number of times on Twitter I have corrected someone’s grammar or warned them that announcing defriendings makes them *sound* self-important. In fact, my Twitter profile currently states “I am the Twitter show-off police, if you use it to show off, you’re likely to get a sarky comment from me :)”

I see this as a service, but how would I feel, perhaps it feels more like a personal attack? Would people rather I just muttered to myself instead? Should I retire from the “Twitter Police”? I’d love to hear what others think of this!

links for 2008-05-16