Monday, 29 October 2012

Lovelace Legacy

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Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron, was encouraged to get involved with mathematics and logic from an early age, she went on to work on Charles Babbage’s early version of the computer and she is considered the first computer programmer(1). She was well recognised in her time for her abilities, and more recently is seen as strong role model for women in science and technology, with Ada Lovelace day as a campaign to recognise and encourage women in the sciences(2).

This year, Wikipedia in conjunction with the Royal Society and Harvard, organised a Wikipedia edit-a-thon to be held on Ada Lovelace day (from the 16th to the 26th Oct 2012), to update pages related to women in science and technology(3). An additional goal of the event was to produce a safe and friendly environment for women to contribute to Wikipedia, where they can learn some of the basics and get hand- on help with creating articles. Women have just as much to contribute to Wikipedia but many are not familiar with how to begin, so this event provides the basic skills needed, after all, the more people who contribute and the more this represents the overall population, then the more comprehensive Wikipedia becomes. Since Wikipedia is currently the 5th most used website in the world(4), making it more representative of global knowledge is a commendable goal.

News of the events was broadcast around the world, appearing on the BBC(5), The Guardian(6), as well as social medial like Twitter(7) and Facebook(8). Hundreds of people, from all around the world took part in the event, creating and improving thousands of articles. Overall, the event can be seen as a huge success, and hopefully many of those new editors will continue contributing to Wikipedia in the future. Either way, encouraging and promoting young people to become involved with science and technology, making it an attractive career, will certainly lead to new discoveries and technological advances that benefit future generations and overcome new global challenges.
(7) #ALDWikithon
E Markham (2012). Lovelace Legacy Blogspot

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