Who is Ada Lovelace? A Confession.

08.10.2019
Jack Davies Marketing Manager
Home >Blog >Who is Ada Lovelace? A Confession.

YellowDog’s Marketing Manager, Jack, has a confession to make. Who is Ada Lovelace? He doesn’t really know. Worse still, today (October 8th) is Ada Lovelace day. Read his blog below on why he wants to say sorry to Ada Lovelace. 

Last week, one of my colleagues in the Bristol YellowDog office, Gabby, sent me an email.

It began…

“I’m sure you’re all over this, but it is Ada Lovelace day on Tuesday 08th October.”

Confession: I wasn’t “all over it”

In fact, I realise I’ve become so world weary of the national news agenda the last few months that I’ve switched off from my interest in the big things going on.

Gabby continued.

“She’s essentially an enormous deal in the ‘women in tech’ space.”

I knew the name. I had an idea that this was a person who was at a significant juncture in history, though I couldn’t quite recall why. Therefore, I certainly had no understanding as to why I should “be all over it”. I left it at that as I looked ahead at an already crowded social media calendar and content delivery week.

Confession: The confession goes deeper than not knowing her at all

Even though I couldn’t remember much about Ada Lovelace, something kept nagging at me. I was familiar with her name. Why? I couldn’t think. It bothered me. I went to Ada Lovelace’s Wikipedia page.

And there it was. Right at the top of the Wikipedia page. A page that, by definition, should be about her. The ‘important’ details of Ada’s astonishing achievements and brilliance. What was it? The engineering, the mathematics, the revolutionary theories? Nope – she was the daughter of Lord Byron.

{Sigh with head in hands here}

I read English Literature as an undergraduate. Of course her name was familiar. I would have come across her via research I’d conducted on her father in my early twenties.

Her connection to Lord Byron – of course – is not without significance. But for that to be my lasting fuzzy memory of Ada Lovelace and her legacy is, frankly, a disgrace. History has been primarily narrated by men and so perhaps her significance had passed me by, but that is a thin excuse.

While I have my part in this oversight, society has a responsibility to bring people like Ada to the fore. This is not just about diversity. This is about equality of opportunity. Looking back and giving recognition to the real giants in our collective history will provide greater equality of opportunity to the next generation of Ada Lovelaces.

I emailed Gabby back, “Let me have a think how we can do something for October 8th.”

Confession:  Sometimes the quest for a powerful marketing campaign is dangerous

Perhaps some nice Instagram stories?  What about a little meme? Ah – I could write ‘an ode to Ada’ blog?  What to say?! How to say it?! Perhaps something about diversity in technology? Maybe just a celebration of Ada’s work? Perhaps connecting the principles of what Ada was investigating in the 19th century and how that was relevant to YellowDog? Our ability to calculate complex mathematics or accelerate innovation perhaps?

And then I checked myself.

The real story – my real story – is that I, ashamedly, didn’t know Ada’s. To spew self-righteous adoration would be wrong.

That would be my blog. That would be my confession to Ada Lovelace.

All about Ada…

Ada Lovelace is an incredible figure in 19th century British history. A brilliant mathematician.  A pioneer in computing. A visionary for the potential applications of programming.

She was known as “The Enchantress of Numbers” as a result of her unique ability to understand the complex, mathematical workings of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. Although the machine was never built, Ada’s detailed notes on the device became a critical influence for Alan Turing’s work some 100 years later. Her observations detailing the potentials of this Engine, is thought to have earned her the title as “the first computer programmer”. Although she tragically died at the age of 36, her work set the ball rolling for the development of the device on which you read this very blog.

Ada must be – for all of us – much more than an historical footnote; particularly in the evolution of modern mathematics, engineering, and computing. But, for many millions more around the world, I’m sorry to say that Ada Lovelace is indeed still a footnote. And that she should not be.

So. To Ada. I’m sorry for almost passing you by.

And. To you. If you’ve managed to come this far down the blog, my call to arms is simple.

Find out more about Ada Lovelace > – her work commands the modern world’s attention.

 

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