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Finding Ada

This should be easy. I work in a software company, I’ve only ever worked in software companies so, in honour of Ada Lovelace Day (what do you mean, who?) I should be able to join in “sharing stories of women — whether engineers, scientists, technologists or mathematicians — who have inspired you to become who you are today”, right?

I work directly with many smart and inspiring women and, indirectly, I’ve been lucky enough to get to know many more in my profession, but how many of them have inspired me?

When I sat down to write this I did wonder if I would be able to think of any women to which I could assign this claim. But then it’s not every day that you take a step back and think about who inspires you, is it?

So, who has inspired me through my career?

My first boss can lay claim to that, but alas, he is a man so I can’t count him here.

My next boss, Kingsley, was certainly influential, she took a chance on me and gently guided my (short) career in her team. She inspired me to be inclusive, and to trust in myself and my opinions, and that it was ok speak up. Looking back it was her coaching that laid the groundwork for that part of my ‘work persona’ as it stands today.

But it’s in my profession that I look for day to day inspiration, and it’s here that I’m lucky enough to have met some amazing women.

In no particular order:

  • Anne Gentle - I’ve mentioned her before in this context but Anne continues to crop up in conversations. She remains a leading light as the technical communications industry pushes further and further into the social media landscape. If you’ve ever seen me speak at a conference, you can thank (blame?) Anne for helping inspire me to speak at my first back in 2007.
  • Karen Mardahl - as a consistent, intelligent and thought provoking speaker, her passion and enthusiasm for usability and desire to ‘do better’ is a constant inspiration to me.
  • Leah Guren - having spent time in a workshop with her, and witnessed her passionate opening keynote at a recent conference, I can attest to her inspirational characteristics.
  • Dr. JoAnn Hackos - last but certainly not least, I think everyone in the technical communications field has been inspired by JoAnn at some point or another, and many of us still look to her as a leading light in our field. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if it were not for her generosity in sharing her knowledge and expertise.

The problem with this type of list is the fear that you have missed someone out, and whilst these four amazing women have inspired me professionally, many more inspire me in my daily life, and I’m lucky to count them as friends.

As a man, working within a profession that has a healthy split of gender, I find it heartening that in a heavily male-dominated industry that such women are pushing forward and making themselves heard. One day, parity will be achieved and I, for one, look forward to that day.

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I really shouldn’t use that as a title for a post, all I now have in my head is Chandler (from Friends) talking about how funny it would be to have a Merge road-sign above the bed (“MERRGE”).

Anyway, the week is rolling past at a fair old lick, and the countdown to our trip to Hungary has begun. Louise has nabbed the book on Budapest my Dad gave us, and each morning I’m regaled with a new set of facts about either Buda, Pest, Budapest, the Danube or the surrounding area. We are slowly gathering a list of places to visit but, at some point, we’ll need to stop as we are only there for 5 days (really 4 when you discount travelling).

I’m taking my good camera to Budapest and have a nice big 4GB card to fill (and 2GB spare as well), so expect a LOT of photos. I’ll be competing with our host though, and she has a big fancy DSLR so it’ll be interesting to see some comparison shots. I’m getting quite excited about our trip to be honest, really need to start thinking about what to pack.

As for the title of this post … well it seems like this little hobby of mine and my work are finally converging with “web 2.0″, blogging and community websites becoming the main focus of my attention as I’ve just started to plan the creation of a “community website” for my current employers. It’s nice when hobbies (passions?) and work collide and I’m having to force myself to STOP thinking about it 24/7… well almost 24/7, the usual diversions still kick in (Wii, Champions League, Ollie, kitchen DIY, por… errr… some other stuff).

It’s also sparked some ideas that I can use to get Scottish Blogs back up and running. Admittedly that’ll be a little way down the road as I’ve got a couple of website clients to deal with first, but exciting (busy) times ahead.

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Do you Wiki?

So, I’ve got just over two weeks to pull together the various threads of thought that are floating around in my head into a cohesive presentation on how Wikis can be used for collaboration.

Part of the presentation will focus on some social engineering tips to foster usage, and, ultimately, the pitch is that a Wiki can replace the email/document cycle.

I’ve got a fair idea of the content, but I’d be interested to know if any of you use a Wiki on a regular basis and, if you do, what you use it for?

Also, anyone near Warwick? I’ll probably not have much time – I travel down on the 20th November and will be attending the pre-conference dinner, the conference is on the 21st, and I’m travelling back up on the 22nd (Tues, Wed and Thurs respectively). Will probably only really be free on the Thurs morning to be honest but, if anyone is around, let me know. Even if it’s just to hook up for a coffee.

Anyway, Wiki thoughts please.

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