I'm not a very social person, by which I mean that I don't know a whole lot about the people I interact with, because I don't ask. Some have told me that it's because deep down, I'm not really interested in people. But that's not true: I just have this social blind spot. I will happily listen to people tell stories about themselves. I just find myself unable to prompt people to do so.
With that in mind, let's turn to Ada Lovelace Day: the day when we celebrate women in technology. This demands a special day, because women in technology are so few and far between. Why this is so has been debated endlessly. But rather than discuss that, let me talk a little bit about one particular woman in technology whom I have worked with nearly every day for the past 10+ years, Genevieve Cerf.
Here is what I know about her: she has a PhD in electrical engineering from Columbia University. She knew Edie Sedgwick and Alan Greenspan, and I think even Andy Warhol at one point. She is related in some way to Vint Cerf, and talks with him every so often. She has studied and published about neural networks, been involved in the first speaker-dependent voice recognition dialing product ever installed in a telephony network, taught courses at Columbia University, and serves on her town's Meeting, fighting for the preservation of open space. She also recorded a piano solo for the 1982 DC Comics book/audio set Justice League of America: The Lunar Invaders.
In her work, Gen herds software developers and project managers alike, and chases down obscure bits of information about the corporate internal networks. She seems to have a mind like a trapdoor, bringing up little, yet in retrospect important, details from years ago. My job would certainly be more difficult without Gen.
I'm sure I've left out plenty of her accomplishments, but this will have to do! Thanks, Gen!
(*) Ada Lovelace Day graphic by Suw at findingada.com under Creative Commons BY-NC licensing.