Happy Ada Day, and thanks

Today being Ada Lovelace Day (though I’d like to see Grace Hopper day too), it seems a good time to say thank you to three women without whom I wouldn’t be doing what I do.

Stacy Horn, founder of Echo Communications. Echo was a successful online community before anyone had heard about social media, thanks to Stacy. Stacy literally changed the direction of my life one day by asking if I’d ever thought about going to grad school.  Then she told me about ITP, and that maybe I should apply. That was the best advice I ever got.

Red Burns, chair of the Interactive Telecommunications Program. No one I know has done more to teach both women and men that they can and should have a voice in how technologies are used. The word that usually comes to my mind when I think of her is empowerment. She has a way of making you realize that you have the power to change anything you want to.  You could say that she’s done a lot for getting more women involved in technology, but Red is more inclusive than that. She’s passionate about seeing to that everyone whose life is affected by tech has a voice in its use.  What I admire about Red is that she has no fear, nor any hesitation about telling you what she thinks.

Marianne Petit, my colleague, thesis advisor, and friend. One of the things I love about Marianne is that she’s gifted at using a whole range of technologies, and focuses on none.  Many of the people I know talk about how technology is just a tool to achieve greater ends. Marianne actually lives her life that way. She makes things that are personal, often funny, usually dark, and oddly happy; things that make you think that people are really messed up, but you feel good about them at the same time. A lot of artists make digital technology-driven art that never escapes the tools. Marianne just makes art, and happens to use digital technology in the process sometimes. She’s also involved in countless efforts aimed at making people’s lives better through the tools we work with.  And she apparently never sleeps.  She’s got a set of ideals that I greatly admire and try to live up to.

Stacy, Red, Marianne: thank you.  I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing without you. And I wouldn’t be as happy.

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