Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day - A can-do attitude is a good thing to teach

"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."

When I read this challenge to bloggers to participate in Ada Lovelace Day, I wasn't sure it was something I would do. After all, I don't have much experience with "technology" other than being a somewhat reluctant "end-user" and that is limited mostly to my writing and blogging. But, upon further reflection, I realized I know someone who has made what I consider to be a significant contribution to technology, and in a very meaningful way.

I am not one of the gifted and talented pioneer women of technology, nor do I know anyone who is. When I try to think about how computers work, my mind quickly reports back "that does not compute." I am in awe of those whose minds work the miracles of math and logic required by technology. And even though we've had a Mac in our home since 1985, several years passed before I dared to sit down to learn what I could do with it. I respect (fear) machines! Now I use my personal computer for almost everything I do. But I still don't get it!

There is a woman I know and admire for her grasp of technology though. My friend Kathy was an early and eager fan of personal computers and jumped in with both feet. While I was ignoring "my husband's" Mac (which I bought for him, by the way!) sitting there on the table, Kathy saw the possibilities of what a computer could do in her life, and had the intellectual curiosity to pursue her vision. She explored each new bit of hardware and software with enthusiasm. Once I attempted to use ours, I had to call my husband (long distance, at all hours of the day and night) just to ask how to copy and paste, or download files, or whatever. Kathy was mastering Photoshop and Dreamweaver and hundreds of other things I still couldn't even imagine.

Not only did Kathy teach herself how to do all this, but she also became good enough to take a job teaching kids everything from keyboarding to video-editing and graphic arts. She learned to trouble-shoot problems and fix things and answer questions about all kinds of technological issues. She set up entire computer labs. She never stopped learning herself and teaching others. Her interest became a passion and a career, and she used it to enrich the lives of others.

I'm a little late to the party, but I'm here. Now I can do all sorts of things with my computer to amaze myself and, I hope, amuse others! I owe a lot of thanks to Kathy, whose example helped inspire me to leave my comfort zone and strike out into the brave new world of technology--blogging and social media. Becoming a blogger has been a rewarding experience for me and has forced me to jump into technology with both feet, just like Kathy. I have moved well beyond copy and paste, and each new accomplishment is encouragement to take the next step. I know I would not be a writer without my computer, and the inspiration to embrace it as the useful and accessible tool it is.

Today--Ada Lovelace Day--I am honoring Kathy as my unsung heroine of technology. Kathy's professional training was to be a lawyer, but I'm glad she chose a different path. Fortunately for all of us, a smart woman, who is adaptable, willing to share and to lead by example is not rare. But one who is self-taught, self-motivated and generous enough to teach others deserves special recognition. Through her love for computers and mastery of technology, Kathy has proven that it is never too late to learn something new yourself, or to inspire others (like me!) to do the same.

1 comment:

Windy Lampson said...

Here here! She has walked me through many technological problems, ignoring my childish whining the whole way.