lucyp: Cartoon picture of a duck wearing wellies and holding an umbrella, with text 'OTW Founding Member' (Default)
[personal profile] lucyp
It's Ada Lovelace Day! There are lots of events throughout the year celebrating various different causes, but I'm particularly fond of ALD because it gives me a chance to celebrate this awesome, exciting community I've become a part of.

Four years ago, I was someone who saw technology as something which didn't have very much to do with me - although there lots of tools that I used, it never occurred to me that I might be able to create or change them in any way. I could code an LJ entry (with bad code) and that was about it. So, I'm not quite sure how I wound up doing the Python vs Ruby deathmatch when the OTW called for volunteers, except for the fact that a. they stressed that they wanted people with no prior knowledge (this was something I could fulfil!) and b. [personal profile] cal lured me into it. I distinctly remember finding even that fairly simple task hard; in fact, I really struggled with the Ruby coding in particular. Four years on, I've not only learnt some coding, but committed code to the Archive, served for three and a half years on the Accessibility, Design and Technology Committee, and been AD&T chair! I think it's fair to say that my relationship with technology has been utterly transformed!

That transformation has come about because of the amazing culture that exists within the OTW. There's something really special about the simple fact that the OTW is majority-female, since this isn't something that I see very often in day-to-day life. More than that, this awesome group of people demonstrates every day that technology isn't something alien and outside of the control of ordinary people's control. I log into Campfire chat (where OTW volunteers hang out) and I get to talk with people working on systems administration, coding, web development, social media networking, and much, much more. I can take part in these conversations and everyone I meet is incredibly generous with their time and knowledge, so that I can learn some of those skills too. All these things are not unique to the OTW - they are characteristic of the fannish culture in which the OTW is rooted - but for me, the OTW was the place where all of this came together and where I began to feel enabled to contribute myself.

Each and every person who contributes to the OTW is a tech heroine to me, but I'd like to single out one person in particular today because she exemplifies so many of the things that I think are awesome within fandom and within the OTW. [personal profile] lim is well-known for her beautiful vids, which are widely admired throughout fandom and have also been exhibited in non-fannish spaces. Non-fannish folks who see lim's work often assume that she is a professionally trained artist, but in fact lim has little formal education. Rather, she had the urge to create something beautiful and set out to acquire the skills to do so. Armed with an internet connection and a curious mind, lim has scoured tutorials, talked to other fans, and worked incredibly hard to produce amazing work. As well as her vids, lim has contributed a wealth of code to fandom: working with HTML and CSS she has helped countless fans to produce beautiful and accessible websites. Perhaps most significantly, it is lim's hard work and dedication which produced much of the front-end of the AO3; she's currently working on a massive overhaul of this now that changes in the site have undone some of her good work and created new challenges to be solved. Again, lim's never taken a formal class in coding, but she has acquired a phenomenal depth and breath of knowledge just by working hard to acquire the skills she wanted. She's passionate about accessibility, and watching her work on the AO3 front end and test the site in multiple browsers, assess it for accessibility for screenreaders and other assistive tech, and make it all look good is truly inspiring.

lim isn't someone who wants to spend a lot of time talking about what she does: the final output is what she wants to say. However, when it comes to sharing knowledge she is incredibly generous. Her website kit walks you through creating a beautiful fannish website step-by-step website. She's written huge amount of documentation laying out useful things to know for coders on the AO3. And if you really want to learn, she's also incredibly generous with her personal time: if I ever manage to do something right with HTML and CSS, it's because lim has spent the time to talk me through it step-by-step and make sure I really understand what I'm doing. She's challenged me to really think and learn it for myself, and everything she's ever taught me has stuck.

One of the most important things about Ada Lovelace Day for me is the dea that women can be on the inside of tech, doing it for ourselves, rather than on the outside and experiencing it only as consumers. Working with the OTW, I've become passionate about the idea that fans can acquire all the knowledge and tools to do exactly this, so that we're not only creating our own content but also creating and controlling the tools which are needed to support that content. Being willing to learn and to help each other is what gives us the keys to the kingdom; lim is an inpsiring example of how much you can achieve once you get inside those gates.

lim: you're my tech heroine this Ada Lovelace Day.

Date: 2011-10-07 03:32 pm (UTC)
cesperanza: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cesperanza
Oh, you're so brilliant! I should have written this! I've been indebted to lim longer than you! :D

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lucyp: Cartoon picture of a duck wearing wellies and holding an umbrella, with text 'OTW Founding Member' (Default)
lucyp

November 2011

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