Reflections on Ada Lovelace Day

As noted yesterday here and on the Learning Lab Community blog, yesterday was declared “Ada Lovelace Day” (ALD09) by Suw Charman-Anderson. Thousands of people blogged and tweeted about a woman (or women) in technology who they admire. Suw even interviewed Ada herself (at the Science Museum) and appeared on BBC News 24 and BBC Radio 5Live to promote women in technology.

Albeit in a very small way, It was great to be part of this global celebration and the social networks that surrounded it. I’d also like to pass on some of the things that I discovered.

  1. Tweetizen allows you to form groups in Twitter and follow interesting trends (but not, it seems, trends that have died away).
  2. If you are part of the twitter “meme”, people start to retweet your insignificant posts and you get more followers!
  3. Posterous is a great way to pick up articles related to a particular internet event and post them to a blog and retweet them at the same time.
  4. The feedly plug-in is much better for sharing than Google reader: tweet, email, share with Google reader, facebook and delicious all from the article view.
  5. Use email to from and you can update nearly all your sharing channels at once, including your regular blogs.
  6. I used my blog to share all 10 of the ALD09 postings that were in my RSS feed yesterday and today. However, on reflection, the fact that there where only 10 to share, given that most of my feeds are tech related, is not a good thing!

But here is the biggest finding:

  • Engaging in this sort of activity takes way too much time!

Some links to summarize the day:

  • The Ada Lovelace Day pledge that started it all (at least for me and my fellow ALD09 bloggers) is still online.
  • is the official home page of Ada Lovelace Day and contains Suw’s biography of Ada herself.
  • The Ada Lovelace Collection is a list of the many (1115 submitted posts at time of writing) that where posted on the day (although many won’t have been added to the list).
  • Dave Lee on the BBC Internet Blog summarized a lot of the activities taking place in the Blogosphere on ALD09.
  • Naomi Alderman wrote an article on ALD09 for The Guardian.
  • I was reminded that Ada was remembered on BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time back in March 2008.

On the social net:

  • The “call sign” for ALD09 on Twitter was #ALD09. At some-point it morphed into #women2follow. Not sure how to find out just how many tweets there were but that channel was busy!
  • On delicious the AdaLovelaceDay09 tag was only used for 117 bookmarks!
  • Around 38 photos on Flickr where tagged Ada Lovelace Day (a fair percentage, alas, are of Babbage’s difference engine).
  • Around five pages of videos come up for Ada Lovelace Day. Warning not all are on-topic or suitable for minors!
  • There was a facebook event. But as I’ve left facebook I can’t comment.

Google Summer of Code 2009 is open for applications

Google Summer of Code 2009 is open for applications. I think that GSoC, which is an annual event in which Google pays students 4,500 USD to work on an open source project of their choice, is a great project and dream of the day when one of my students takes on this challenge. I try my hardest by ensuring, so far as is possible, that only open source software is used in my courses: so my students have experience as users of LAMP, Drupal, WordPress, PHP, Ruby on Rails, Netbeans and even the Google Code hosting service. And every year, I pass on the announcement via Blackboard to all the students under my immediate care. Despite this exposure, no-one so far has thought that they had enough skills to move on to the next stage. Maybe this year will be different. After all, 4,500 USD is worth a lot more today than it was last year!

Amazing Grace

In honour of “Lady Lovelace Day” I had pledged to write a post on computing pioneer Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, one of first programmers of the Harvard Mark I Calculator and designers of the Cobol programming language. Grace is always remembered for finding a real bug in one of her computer programs (in the days when computers were made with thermionic valves and relays) and taped it into her log book along with the wry comment:

“[time] 15.45 Relay #70, Panel F (moth) in Relay. First actual case of bug being found.”


p>As luck would have it, as I sat down to type this post, I found this video interview from 2 October 1986 on YouTube which adds some additional interest to this post.

What a wonderful, warm and funny woman!



Spring is sprung…

Spring is sprung
The grass is riz
I wonder where the birdies is?

– Original source unknown.

Spring is springing up all over as this picture of a magpie (“one for sorrow”) on the Faraday Building lawn with the daffodils shows.

Happy 20th Birthday, World Wide Web

I’m sure I’ll not be the only one, but let me add my congratulations to Sir Tim and his wonderful, annoying, ubiquitous invention.


[Happy 20th Birthday, World Wide Web](
via [Jane’s E-Learning Pick of the Day]( by Jane Hart on 3/13/09

Scientific American has a great feature on Tim Berners Lee and the Web.  The reason?

“CERN on March 13 celebrates the 20th anniversary of a proposal entitled, “Information Management: A Proposal,” by Tim Berners-Lee, which would become the blueprint for the World Wide Web”

Happy 20th Birthday, World Wide Web

[Via Richard Nantel on Workplace Learning Today – a great multi-author blog from the analysts at Brandon Hall]

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Effective Presentations

This new Flowgram weaves the best of the Internet’s sites on presentations into a briefing presentation for my research project students. At the time of writing, there is no soundtrack but check back later. Important note, Flowgram goes off line on 30th June: you probably won’t see the embedded presentation after that date.

Flowgram has been playing up lately: it takes an inordinate amount of time between uploading PowerPoint slides and them appearing on the site. Hopefully it’s just a temporary glitch but I’ve had to embed the web sites into the actual PowerPoint files to get this to work in my live briefings!

Education theories on learning [via feedly]

An informal guide for the engineering education scholar has been published by the Engineering Subject Centre (ESC) at the Higher Education Academy (HEA). It’s aimed at engineering educators (like me) who don’t have much idea of the theory of education and educators (also like me) who want to do research in this area. Hope it delivers what it promises!

[Published: 10 days ago shared via feedly]

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Testing Disqus

I have noticed that a few people in my Friendfeed have been using a new (to me) social commenting service Disqus to mediate their blog comments. Unable to resist trying out “yet another Web2.0 service” (YAWTS), I’ve signed up. After some adjustment to my Blogger template to include the necessary third-party code, my comments are now using Disqus and you can subscribe to a post’s comment stream, or all my comments. Should be a nice way to monitor comments on my posts if nothing else!

Why not try it yourself: it has some of the features that your Blogger comments engine is missing such as threaded comments, cross-social network links and reblogging. I just hope that it doesn’t go the way of Swurl!

The Death of Swurl

Swurl was a lifestreaming tool with a great interface that I was subscribed to since I read about it in Read Write Web back in July last year. Unfortunately, without warning, it’s now gone and taken my life with it! All that is left is the apologetic note illustrated.

Luckily I still have my friend-feed, tumblr blog and netvibes home page.

Moral: don’t get too attached to a single Web 2.0 service! In the current economic climate, there’ll be a few that fall by the wayside.