ALD10: Celebrating Suw Charman-Anderson

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, and I have joined the pledge to write about a woman in technology whom I admire. Having written about someone whom I have admired from afar last year (Lynda Weinman), this year I decided to write about someone anear (is that a word?) - the woman who started Ada Lovelace Day, an inspirational woman in her own right, Suw Charman-Anderson. I first met Suw several years ago B.F. (Before Facebook), when the whole concept of corporate blogging and social media in business was still in its early days. I was inspired after seeing her speaking at a conference, and then contracted her to work with me in my role as Head of Digital Media at NESTA, where I was convinced that joining the conversation should be a part of the organisation's mission statement. She helped me coach the staff there into taking their first leaps into communicating without the mask of pre-approved text and official statements, and helped build my own confidence in believing in what I knew to be right: that people want to be treated as people, not 'audiences' or 'target markets', and that everyone wants to know that there's a real-life human being behind every brand, company or organisation.

Even if you haven't had the pleasure of working with Suw directly, you've got to respect her involvement in the Open Rights Group as well as being one of the UK's longest-standing and prolific social media bloggers. She's got a lot to say and makes a lot of sense (check it out for yourself here or here). Not to mention her enthusiasm and reach in mobilising thousands of people to write about, spread the word and join in the cause of celebrating the achievements of women in technology, by starting the Ada Lovelace phenomenon. I learned a lot about Ada Lovelace (and other sometimes under-appreciated women) through this, and I feel all the richer for it.

But the real reason I felt driven to write about Suw today is because we have a lot in common:

1. Each of us has a totally unique name, with no one else in the world sharing it.

2. We are both addicted to cats and crochet - and we both know it's not something that usually mixes well.

3. We both think that the web can be a really powerful tool in connecting people, making businesses work better (and smarter) and empowering those who may not have had a voice before. It's an awesome thing, and I hope that you'll join me today in taking a moment to appreciate just how amazing it is to be alive and online today.