March 24th, for the past two years, has been a new kind of holiday: one created on the Web, with most celebrations occurring online, using technology to turn an eye on society, and vice versa.
Today is Ada Lovelace Day, a day when bloggers and writers post links and stories about women in technology and science. Lovelace was a nineteenth-century scientist and mathematician who wrote some of the first computer programs--in fact, her work was so prophetic that the machine for which she created her programs was never even built.
Though that fact could have condemned her to obscurity in our time, her legacy was revived last year when Suw Charman-Anderson saw her as a fitting representative for the new annual celebration of women in technology. As the Guardian's Mercedes Bunz reminds us, technology continues to be a male-dominated field, and that's why today is so important. The main purpose of the day is to spread the word about the new paths women are blazing in technology today, and my contribution to the discussion focuses naturally enough on the intersection of technology and media: one of the more interesting experiments in citizen journalism I've seen recently has been Women's Creative Collective for Change's imMEDIAte Justice program. Putting the technological media tools in the hands of young women, the imMEDIAte Justice program lets participants see for themselves the impact those tools can have on self expression and empowerment. The program provides young women with mentoring and training on reproductive health and sexual education, and then gives them video cameras to spread the word. According to IJ's site, the program's mission is to provide "young women and queer people of color with the knowledge and skill-sets to generate new images of reproductive freedom." The program is currently in the running for a significant grant from Pepsi's Refresh Project, so if you like the idea, feel free to cast your vote for the program.
Image: Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), Science Museum, London/Science and Society Picture Library.