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March 25 2010

Ada Lovelace Day: Celebrating Women in Technology and Transparency Worldwide

Inspired by Ellen Miller's post on the Sunlight Foundation blog, which profiles the work of women who use technology to promote transparency in the United States, we decided to add to the list by profiling several women from around the world involved in the use of technology to make government more transparent and accountable. The following profiles were written and researched by Renata Avila, the lead of Creative Commons Guatemala, the Director of Primer Palabra, and our researcher for Spanish-language Latin America on the Technology for Transparency Network.

In Mexico, Irma Eréndida Sandoval heads up a laboratory to document corruption and research the best transparency policies. “Laboratorio de Documentación y Análisis de la Corrupción y la Transparencia” at UNAM, the Autonomous National Mexican University, is one of the most prestigious institutions in Latin America.

In Iceland, parliamentarian Birgitta Jónsdóttir is promoting the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, a proposal to create a global safe haven for investigative journalism in Iceland that would improve freedom of expression and transparency worldwide by protecting watchdog groups and whistleblowers from libel censorship.

It is important not only approve good laws to promote transparency and openness but also protect a free country from becoming less transparent. An activist from Germany, Franziska Heine, initiated the most successful e-petition in German history, aimed to prevent a law which would give the German police the right to create and maintain censorship lists with websites to be blocked by German ISPs. It was signed more than 134,000 times. Franziska is part of the anti-censorship movement and is engaged in several activities and organizations which fight against surveillance, data mining, censorship and other threats to civil rights.

But good laws and proactive citizens are not enough; tools are also important to enable women around the world to take action and promote transparency. Margarita Padilla, an IT engineer and the former director of the magazine Mundo Linux is making a difference. She creates and maintains systems with a social approach and also promotes openness with her website Sin Dominio.

Mercedes de Freitas from Venezuela is the Executive Director of Transparencia Venezuela, the local chapter of Transparency International and is former Ashoka Changemaker Fellow for her work in promoting civic participation to increase government accountability.

These are surely just a few examples of women around the world who are using technology to challenge corruption, improve the performance of institutions, and create better policy to engage citizens and hold public officials accountable. As a recent article by Alexandra Starr notes, both the fields of technology and government have long excluded women from participation despite their impressive track record for approaching both policy and technology with more realism and tact than their male counterparts.

Software companies and parliamentary buildings around the world are still mostly dominated by men, but this is changing quickly thanks to a new generation of women technologists, activists, and politicians. I would be remiss to not highlight the work of our female researchers and research reviewers who, it must be said, have proven themselves to be the hardest working members of our team on the Technology for Transparency Network.

Renata Avila, who wrote the profiles of all of the women above, is a lawyer, human rights activist, the country lead of Creative Commons Guatemala, and the director of Primer Palabra. She has worked with the Rigoberta Menchu Tum Foundation, Harvard University, the Public Voice, and Women in International Security. Twitter: @avilarenata.

Sopheap Chak is a graduate student of peace studies at the International University of Japan. Meanwhile, she is also running the Cambodian Youth Network for Change, which mobilizes young activists around the country. She was previously advocacy officer of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) where she helped lead the “Black Box Campaign” to fight against police corruption in Cambodia. Twitter: @jusminesophia.

Rebekah Heacock is currently a master's candidate at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, where she studies the intersection of ICT and development and edits SIPA’s blog, The Morningside Post. She previously lived and worked in Uganda, where she co-developed and directed a series of conferences on post-conflict development for American and African college students. Twitter: @rebekahredux.

Manuella Maia Ribeiro is a recent graduate of Public Policy Management from the University of São Paulo, Brazil. Since 2007 she has been researching how governments can promote transparency, accountability and participation through the use of information and communication technologies. Twitter: @manuellamr.

Namita Singh is a researcher and consultant focused on participatory media. She studied mass media and mass communication at Delhi University and has a Master of Arts in Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai. Namita will soon begin her Ph.D. research in the UK on the processes and impact of participatory video. Twitter: @namitasingh.

Carrie Yang is a a postgraduate student studying new media at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The focus of her research is on citizen journalism and new media product development. She studied English at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in Guangzhou, China. Twitter: @Carrie_Young.

Sylwia Presley is a blogger, photographer and activist who is passionate about social media marketing for the non-profit sector and social media for social change. She has organized numerous events including Barcamp Transparency UK last summer in Oxford, which she hopes will be replicated in other European countries this year. Twitter: @presleysylwia.

Aparna Ray is an independent qualitative research consultant by profession who is keenly interested in people, cultures, communities and social media/software. She writes both in English and Bangla, (the latter being her mother-tongue), and covers the Bangla blog world on Global Voices. Twitter: @aparnaray.

Laura Vidal is a Venezuelan studying Science Education in Paris, France. She blogs at Sacando la Lengua about languages, literature and interactions in society, and deeply believes in the uniqueness and importance of every culture, and in the study of them as a mirror to our own.

Do you know other women working in the fields of technology and transparency? Please link to their websites, blogs, and Twitter accounts in the comments section below!

Reposted bySigalon02 Sigalon02

March 24 2010

Ada Lovelace day: Celebrating women in science

The annual event aims to raise the profile of women in science and technology. Rebecca Thomson picks out some of the most important people


Reposted fromsigaloninspired sigaloninspired

July 09 2009

Four short links: 10 July 2009

  1. Ceph -- open source distributed filesystem from UCSC. Ceph is built from the ground up to seamlessly and gracefully scale from gigabytes to petabytes and beyond. Scalability is considered in terms of workload as well as total storage. Ceph is designed to handle workloads in which tens thousands of clients or more simultaneously access the same file, or write to the same directory-usage scenarios that bring typical enterprise storage systems to their knees. (via joshua on delicious)
  2. Daily Internet Activities, 2000-2009 -- Pew Charitable Trust's Internet usage survey. We've finally broken 50% of Americans using the Internet daily. Twitter is almost a rounding error. (via dhowell on Twitter)
  3. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage -- fantastic comic, with end-notes that explain how Babbage and Lovelace's lives and works are reflected in the action of the comic. (via suw on Twitter)
  4. Search User Interfaces -- full text of this book about the different (successful and un-) interfaces to search. (via sebchan on Twitter)

March 24 2009

It's Always Ada Lovelace Day at O'Reilly

I had a hard time choosing just one of the many marvelous women in tech that I might write about for Ada Lovelace Day, because, frankly, I'm surrounded by those women! Where so many think of the tech world as male-dominated, women have always played a major role at O'Reilly. A large part of our management team has always consisted of women, and women are the creators of some of our best known products and brands. I want to acknowledge their contributions, highlighting the fact that they have been so central to the success of my company. I also want to emphasize that there are many ways to contribute to a tech community, and that being a coder is not the only way to have an impact on the world of computing.


Christina o'reillyMy first hat tip has to go to my wife, Christina O'Reilly. She's a playwright and choreographer, not a techie. But if you've been influenced by me, you've also been influenced by her. The company, its values, and much of its unusual nature have been profoundly shaped by our relationship. (You can see her influence in some of the early company documents you'll find here,.) In more ways than I can count, I've built the company to be one that she would be proud of. We met when I was nineteen, and she's been part of everything I've ever done, in the same way that Elizabeth Barrett Browning said of her husband, Robert Browning:


What I do and what I dream include thee,


As the wine must taste of its own grapes


From the earliest years of the company, most of my key managers have been women. From 1985 till about 2000, there was a troika--Linda Walsh, Linda Lamb, and Cathy Brennan--who helped me shape the corporate culture, and for many years were touchstones for the values I still espouse.


Linda Walsh was my first employee. She helped me build my original documentation consulting business, and helped me come into my own as a leader when I broke up with my original business partner. She was also the key business leader for our digital books initiative in the late 1990s and one of the founders of Safari Books Online.


Linda Lamb was a key member of the team (along with me and Dale Dougherty) that developed our original publishing program back in 1985. Linda also served as our director of marketing for many years, with a delicious, quirky sense of humor. (I still remember one of her earliest trade show pieces, a wonderful riff on the National Enquirer, in which she reported on abductions by strange aliens with big eyes, programmers forced to participate in camel races, and exorcisms performed after errors in programming with curses.) She was also the original author of one of our first books, Learning the Vi Editor, and later creator (with Nancy Keene) of our series of Patient-Centered Guides.


I hired Cathy Brennan (now Strider) as a receptionist in 1985 or 1986, but her common sense soon made her one of my most trusted advisers and her ability to get things done made her one of my senior executives. When I decided to move to California from Boston in 1987, Cathy was the one who persuaded me to move our then-fledgling publishing business along with me, and agreed to move out herself to set up customer service and operations for this new line of business. She built and ran our operations as we grew from a tiny startup to a publishing powerhouse. She also managed the design and construction of our office complex in Sebastopol.


Laura baldwinLaura Baldwin joined the company as CFO in 2001, just as we were crashing into the wall of the dot com bust. I can with confidence say that we wouldn't have survived without her. I had always held up Harold, the last of the Saxon kings of England, as one of my management heroes. He went down to defeat by William the Conqueror rather than abandon his people to fight another day. Laura convinced me that I needed to do layoffs--and when I did, I found that the people we laid off moved on to what were often better jobs for them, and the company itself became leaner, more creative, and more effective. Laura brought financial discipline to the company. She helped bring us back from the brink, and built a bigger, more profitable, and more successful company. Living to fight another day helped us to birth the Web 2.0 movement, Foo Camp, Make: magazine, the Missing Manuals, and many of the other post-2001 products we are known for today.


Laura is now our COO as well as CFO, and is the day-to-day manager of the business. Those of you who wonder how I find so much


I have learned more about the nuts and bolts of business from Laura than from any other person. Harold Geneen once said "The skill of management is to achieve your objectives through the efforts of others." Laura knows how to do that in spades - she's a great manager. But she's also the most amazingly productive person I've ever met. Usually, you have to choose between an effective manager and an effective individual contributor. Laura somehow manages to be both.


CJ rayhillThe list goes on.
CJ Rayhill was our CIO for seven years, working with Laura to build the information systems that turned O'Reilly into a "real company." (She was also one of the first women to graduate from the Naval Academy - here's an interview about her history in the tech industry.) She's now the COO for Safari Books Online, where she's managing the extremely cool features that will be appearing in Safari 6.0 later this year.


Gina blaberGina Blaber was the original managing editor for GNN, the world's first commercial website. She then ran our software group (remember Website Pro, the first PC-based web server?) and now runs the O'Reilly Conferences group. If you've ever been to an O'Reilly event, it's easy to think that the speakers and program chairs do all the work, forgetting that it's Gina and her team (mostly women) who make it all look so easy.


Laurie petryckiLaurie Petrycki ran several of our publishing divisions (notably Head First and Missing Manuals) before taking on the challenge last year of launching our new education division.


And that's leaving out the many women who've worked as editors, copyeditors, designers, and production staff at O'Reilly over the years. If you've ever read and enjoyed an O'Reilly book, take a moment to appreciate how many hands, how many eyes, read it before you did, to shape it into its final form.


Sara wingeSara Winge is the creator of Foo Camp, one of O'Reilly's quirkiest and most influential initiatives. While Wikipedia claims me as a co-creator of the event, I have to say that it has always really been Sara's brainchild. I had wanted to do some kind of events at O'Reilly after the dot com bust left us with a lot of unused space, and I might have even proposed residential events, but Sara is the one who picked up this idea from the heap where we tend to leave good ideas that don't have anyone to make them real.


Sara conceived and developed the format (inspired in part by Open Space, she says, but to my mind, all the best parts were original.) I've just been the front-man and impresario. So if you've been to Foo Camp, or to Bar Camp, or any of the many other "Camp" spinoffs, you owe a big round of thanks to Sara. Foo Camp also demonstrates a uniquely feminine sensibility. Sara didn't charge to the front; she created a context where other people can shine, quietly facilitating. As Lao Tzu said, "When the best leader leads, the people say, 'We did it ourselves.'"


Edie freedmanEdie Freedman is the creator of the distinctive O'Reilly animal brand. Many people know a bit about the story of how strange animals came to be the symbols of so many technologies, but what they probably don't know that behind this brand, so central to the company's heritage, was an act of generosity by a complete stranger.


Our first books, published late in 1985, all had the same simple cover, featuring the image of a nutshell. The idea was that these small books had everything you needed, in a nutshell. In 1987, with seven books in print, we realized that people at trade shows weren't recognizing that we had more than one book, so we hired a designer to produce some new covers. She developed a treatment that was colorful, geometric and high-tech. We had an all-hands meeting on a Friday afternoon to review the new cover treatment. I just couldn't go for it. It was too expected. I said we'd have to try again.


original cover reading & writing termcap entriesLinda Lamb shared our plight with her housemate, Edie, who at the time was a designer at Digital Equipment Corporation. Edie thought that Unix program names sounded like weird animals. She also realized that 19th century woodcuts provided a unique, low-cost design option. Fair enough. But she went further than that. She produced and laid out seven mechanicals of possible covers over the weekend. Linda brought them in on Monday, free of charge. Here's one of the original designs, for original cover design, sed & awkSed & Awk, a book that didn't even exist yet.)


How cool is that? One of the great brands in tech was a gift from a stranger! (Edie did later come to work for us, and served as our Creative Director for many years. She is still with the company.) That is one of the many experiences that made me receptive to the idea of open source as a gift culture when Eric Raymond wrote about that in 1997.


(While I'm on the subject of the kindness of strangers, I have to call out the contributions of Danese Cooper and Linda Stone, two people who've never worked for O'Reilly but who might as well have done, for all the tireless work they do on our behalf. I met Danese through our mutual work on open source when she was the "open source diva" at Sun, and later at Intel. She's the person I always call when anyone asks me for advice on open source licensing, community, or corporate adoption. Linda Stone, former maven at Apple and Microsoft, is a mentor and inspiration on the value of making connections between people who ought to know each other. Linda is also the one who had the brilliant idea of Science Foo Camp when Timo Hannay of the Nature Publishing Group and I were scratching our heads trying to find a project to do together. She's also the one who suggested we ask Google to host the party. Never mind random acts of kindness; there's real power in random acts of connection. When I said a few years back that our purpose at Foo Camp is to create new synapses in the global brain, I was channeling what I learned from Linda.)


I could go on and on. There's Allison Randal, who Nat Torkington already wrote about in his own Ada Lovelace Day post earlier today. There's Kathy Sierra, the creator of the amazing Head First series of books, and also the subject of many another Ada Lovelace Day post. There's Carla Bayha, who for many years was the computer book buyer at Borders, and whose penetrating judgment helped books on many an obscure topic find space on shelves across America. Carla is truly an unsung hero of the industry.


And of course, I celebrate the many other women authors, conference speakers, and coders who've been a part of O'Reilly's story over the years. Truly, we could never have done it without you. As far as I'm concerned, it's always Ada Lovelace Day at O'Reilly.

Ada Lovelace Day ABC

Ada Lovelace Day helps to "make sure that whenever the question Who are the leading women in tech? is asked, that we all have a list of candidates on the tips of our tongues". I was tempted to talk about Mitchell Baker (Chief Lizard Wrangler at Mozilla) but the Ada Day specifically requested "unsung heroes", so I'm going to give you the ABC of great women you probably don't already know:

The first, actually, you probably do: Allison Randal. She sometimes blogs on O'Reilly Radar, but not as often as we like. Allison succeeded me in four projects, and made me look bad every time! She ran the Perl Foundation better than I did, she ran Perl 6 better than I did, she was a better editor than I was, and you don't need a math degree to figure out how smoothly OSCON ran without me last year .... I admire the way Allison is a humane manager who succeeds in getting forward progress, even out of the most difficult to manage people, yet she'd much rather be coding. She's a linguist, a compiler writer of mad skills, has been the driving force behind Parrot (congrats on 1.0!), and is a deeply sane person in an industry too-often burdened by ego, vanity, and fantasy.

The second is Brenda Wallace. She's also a rock-solid developer, but has taken on much of the social organising of geek events in Wellington, New Zealand. Software folks are great at spotting gaps in code coverage, but they often have a blind spot for gaps in social coverage. Brenda's run geek girl events, SuperHappyDevHouse, Open Days, Hack Days, and more. She's always finding ways to get developers meeting developers. She rallied many troops for New Zealand's fight against bad copyright law. And, as if that wasn't enough, she has more gadgets than anyone else I've met in NZ!

The third is Courtney Johnston. She works for the National Library of New Zealand. I especially appreciate liminal people, those who live at the intersection of worlds. Courtney bridges three: art, libraries, and the web. She can bring the world view, the values, the techniques, and knowledge from one community to the others, enriching them all. She's passionate about the potential for galleries, libraries, archives, and museums to not just survive but thrive in the digital world. And, like Allison and Brenda, Courtney is an amplifier: she is working to share knowledge and build networks that make other people more effective and powerful in what they do.

Lady Ada would be proud.

Tomorrow is Ada Lovelace Day, Celebrating The World's First Computer Programmer

AdaLovelacePic.jpgAda Lovelace, a 19th century British writer who is considered the world's first computer programmer, will be honored by bloggers all over the world tomorrow. In the spirit of providing young women with role models, more than 1500 bloggers participating in the first annual Ada Lovelace Day have pledged to write about a woman or women they admire working in technology on March 24th. You can read about Lovelace on Wikipedia.

Sponsor

The event was organized by UK social software consultant Suw Charman-Anderson using the service Pledgebank. If you'd like to participate as well, or just in case you're interested - we've created a Custom Search Engine of technology blogs written by women to help with this and any other research.

We'll be participating with a post highlighting an inspiring woman in tech tomorrow, but we thought this would also be a good opportunity to share the search engine below, titled Blogs By Women in Tech. It was created using the super simple and very powerful Google Custom Search tool and lets users search just the archives of more than 200 tech blogs written by women. It was seeded by the archived blogroll at Misbehaving.net and has since grown with more people submitting their blogs. I have a link to it saved on my toolbar and use it whenever I can, as a way to make sure to include womens' voices in our news coverage.

Feel free to save and use the search engine yourself. I you'd like to suggest your blog or someone else's for inclusion you can either email links to marshall@readwriteweb.com or volunteer to be a contributor through a link on the site.

So go sign up to participate in Ada Lovelace Day and let's make sure that the next generation of young women know that there is an important place for them in technology.

womencse.jpg

Discuss

Reposted fromjrobelen jrobelen

January 27 2009

Four short links: 26 Jan 2009

Pledges, phone, fake brains, and real brains. All here on your Monday dose of four short links:

  1. Ada Lovelace Day - Suw Charman has kicked off a day of blogging about women in technology in honour of one of the greatest, Ada Lovelace. Of course, you should also feel free to blog about women in technology on days that aren't 24 March.
  2. Get Multitouch Support on Your T-Mobile G1 Today - developer Luke Hutchison added multitouch support to his phone's operating system. It doesn't suddenly make the phone's apps work like an iPhone's but it's a hell of a testament to the utility of an open source operating system.
  3. OCR and Neural Nets in Javascript - jQuery creator, John Resig, analyzes the Greasemonkey script that uses a neural network to solve one site's captchas. As John points out, the site's captchas aren't distorted, but it's nonetheless a sexy hack.
  4. WSJ Recommends Four Books on Irrational Decision Making - the four books are Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, Judgement Under Uncertainty, How We Know What Isn't So, and Predictably Irrational. (via Mind Hacks blog)
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