happy Ada Lovelace day

Celebrating women in technology and science: our patron saint(ish): writer of the first computer programme, for the Babbage Difference Engine.

Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging (and other pertinent worshipful activities) to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science. One can pledge to write a blog post about a tech heroine on that day. Forewarned is forearmed for next year …

My contribution wouldn’t/couldn’t really count as it’s a bit devious: I’d nominate Trotula of Salerno (11th-12th c.) c/o an old blog post here; 2nd (if a previous post shouldn’t count) Dorotea Bucca or Hildegard of Bingen.

I’d also like to nominate anonymous/anonimised collectives: non-mainstream physicians and other witches; inventors and innovators; including in the latter category the lady patrons and other hands contributing to a new kind of writing and new idea of literature that was 12th c. romance (Eleanor etc.). Though pushing competition specs a bit far, it’s still τέχνη and scientia by contemporary and, indeed, proper definitions.

the Official T-Shirt for 2010

See also, on the topic of ALD: the BBC (and, from the 25th, the BBC again) and the marvellous 2D Goggles: Dangerous Experiments in Comics, who are responsible for this post’s images (except Marie and Herself as/the period-piece, obv.) via Lovelace and Babbage: a crime-fighting steampunk adventure and mayhap even romance (Medievally speaking). Lovelace: The Origin provides a handy biographical sketch of our heroine and a fine first step into her world.

I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again: Romance Is Not Dead.

But back to our onions and sheep, who shouldn’t be left to their own devices as otherwise the one will eat the other. A serious and hazardous matter as it is in the nature of slightly silly blog-posts that their inhabitants might get things the wrong way round.

Women forging ahead and inspiring images of forged steel (none of which are, of course, sheep or onions, metaphorically or otherwise…): Looking for a new research topic? For something hot and sweet to forge, leave in the right library, have rediscovered and authenticated—so as to (possibly, allegedly, apocryphally) get a PhD for creating a successful fakery and most certainly to create a scandal and providing The Medieval with some publicity? Want to gain renown as Mad, Bad, and Dangerous To Know?

In my rapid online rootle, I was delighted to meet this short and sweet (and tanatalizing) Wikipedia entry:

Abella was a 14th century Italian physician who taught at the Salerno school of medicine. Her published medical treatises, De atrabile (Black Bile) and De natura seminis humani (Nature of seminal fluid), have not survived.

Tangents and digressions aside, let us return to our heroine and the woman of the day. In an excerpt from Lovelace and Babbage Vs The Economy:


Other nominees in the Most Popular Role-Model Contest (BBC) “included scientist Marie Curie, mathematician-turned-actress Hedy Lamarr, programmer Grace Hopper and Lisbeth Salander, fictional creation of the late author Stieg Larsson.” No contest. And the inclusion of fictional entities? Can we do this for the Nobel and the Oscars?

The first computer programmer. Vive la différance and all that.

One comment

  1. There’s still time to sign up–meanwhile, a Shout Out to the three fellow Vancouverite signatories to the Ada Lovelace pledge. Their nominees and posts are:

    [Delighted to see I’m not the only one who “cheated” with more than one nominee or an anonymous/anonimised group. Maybe this should be a more normal thing, come to think of it: beyond subversion and into full and proper disregard for vertical hierarchies and named authorities, pillars of phallogocentricity that they are … ]

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