Category Archives: Seed 100 campaign

Seed 100 update: introducing Colin Adams, designer of the Robotux logo

Ada Lovelace portrait

Ada Lovelace portrait

Analytical Engineer donors to the Seed 100 campaign receive one of two pieces of art. One of them is an Ada Lovelace portrait by illustrator Colin Adams. We love Colin’s beautiful portrait (shown right), which is based on the 1838 portrait of Ada Lovelace by A.E. Chaton (found in the trash!), and we’re thrilled to introduce Colin and his work to you.

People in open source may have met Colin’s work before: Colin is the designer of the Robotux logo used by LinuxChix, which Valerie commissioned in 2007 and subsequently released under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike.

Valerie asked Colin a few questions about the Robotux logo and its subsequent remixing.

You came up with the idea for and drew the LinuxChix “Robotux” logo, which was the first LinuxChix logo that wasn’t some variation of a woman, a computer, or the Tux penguin logo. What really made it different is that it showed a woman in control of technology – and looked super stylish at the same time. Tell us about the process of designing that logo.

Robotux logo for LinuxChix, showing a woman operating a robot penguin exoskeleton

Robotux logo by Colin Adams, CC BY-SA

To design that logo, I thought about and sketched up all of the things that the LinuxChix were, symbolic and metaphoric along with the basic elements of women and Linux. Most logos and illustrations start with the really boring and simple solution, and evolve as you realize how to do it in a more creative way. If you were doing a logo for something like a golf store, I would guess that 90% of them have some combination of a tee, a golf ball, or a club. A dimpled golf ball for the “O” or something. That’s where the brain starts, but good design is thinking past that. Maybe just a broken tee, or just the ripples of the pond where your ball just went, or even the amorphous shape of the green. For LinuxChix, I ended up thinking that it wasn’t just women who have something to do with a penguin logo, but rather women who took control of Linux by programming. That thought, along with the programmers as self-starters and mold-breakers led to the idea of a woman who built and programed a robot in her basement. putting her in its head (instead of nearby with a remote) showed that she was its actual brain and master.

“Robotux” was remixed into the Unicorn/Robotux logo for Haecksen by Lisa Wood of Pixellab. Had your art been remixed before? What did you think about having someone else riff on your design?

A unicorn driving a giant robotic penguin exoskeleton

Unicorn Robotux, by Lisa Wood and Colin Adams, CC BY-SA

Seeing the remix by Lisa Wood was great, I’m not sure if any of my images had been remixed before. It’s good to see two things mashed up, and for it to work, the original logo has to be well known enough to recognize that it is a re-mix.

Coming up soon: more about Colin’s work, his interest in steampunk, and of course, the Ada Lovelace portrait itself.

Seed 100 update: Colin Adams and his Ada Lovelace portrait

Ada Lovelace portrait

Ada Lovelace portrait

We have no more Sydney Padua-signed prints for the the Seed 100 campaign! Fortunately we lined up another gorgeous print for our Analytical Engineers, by illustrator Colin Adams (see right).

Yesterday Valerie talked to Colin about his Robotux logo for LinuxChix, today she asks him about the value of artwork for open technology/culture projects, steampunk, and the portrait he’s designed for the Ada Initiative.

Tell us about yourself. (Location, education, interests, work, favorite project)

I work out of Oakland, California, where I have done freelance illustration full time for the past eleven years. I was prepared well for this in college, at the Academy of Art University. They are a commercial school, which some artists turn their nose at, but I could never have been so adaptable and open to last-minute client revisions. Nothing can substitute actually illustrating for years, the sheer diversity of clients and jobs makes you ready for everything, and never bored. It’s the weird requests that make my day. An anthropomorphised NASCAR wearing a suit jacket, chimps smashing electric guitars, or even solving straightforward requests with bizarre images like a girl programmer controlling a large, robotic penguin.

What do you think the value of artwork is to an open technology/culture project? What does a professional artist bring to the table?

Having artwork for a project can really set it apart. No matter how much people strive otherwise, people judge a book by it’s cover, and a book with no cover at all is hard to sell. When people see a clean image, and one they know is custom (not a piece of clipart they’ve seen on every bulletin board in the laundromat), they feel it’s worth their time to check out, even if it’s an unconscious thought. We are visual, aesthetic creatures, even if most programmers don’t think they are. Taking pride in something you are building and showing it is something that draws other people to your project.

You’re interested in steampunk, which is based on the era in which Ada Lovelace lived. What is the attraction of steampunk for you? Do you have a favorite Ada Lovelace story?

The draw for me of Steampunk, a word which I didn’t know about when I built my first few devices, is both the aesthetic of H. G. Wells time machine with wood and brass and glass, the idea that the insides of a machine can be as beautiful as the exterior. The reason I think it appeals to programmers and makers is that in the Victorian era, a maker with a modest shop and basic tools could build the highest technology in the world, the steam engine. After that, technology outgrew the tinkerer. I could never hope to build a laptop in my garage, and there is much more advanced technology in the world. Ada Lovelace was in that era, where there was this possibility, and most things you could imagine could be built. The fact that she wrote an algorithm for a theoretical engine that wasn’t built until a hundred years later is amazing.

Tell us about creating the Ada Lovelace portrait for the Ada Initiative. What makes it new and different from the existing portraits of Ada Lovelace?

The portrait I did is based on one of the few paintings of her. One could be tempted to modernize the style too much, but I went with the woodcut look because I think the amazing things she did were even more amazing because of the era she was in. The black and white clean lines will reproduce well in many types of media, which is always good for an illustration that will grow on it’s own. It would make an awesome tattoo, though the tattoo artist will curse me for how many lines it has.

The Ada Initiative Seed 100 campaign: donate in June to support women in open technology and culture

Seed 100 update: 5 Sydney Padua 2D Goggles prints remaining

Lovelace and Babbage: They Fight Crime

Lovelace and Babbage: They Fight Crime

Update 2313 UTC, June 11: there are no more Sydney Padua 2D Goggles prints available. Future Analytical Engineer donors will receive the Colin Adams portrait print.

The generosity of our donors continues to astound us. Thank you for your enthusiasm for our work, and your faith in our ability to do it.

We now have 25 Analytical Engineer donors and 20 of them have chosen to receive the limited edition 2D Goggles “They Fight Crime” print (right) signed by artist Sydney Padua. If you’d like a copy of this amazing print, please donate now as an Analytical Engineer to ensure you get one of the remaining five prints.

If you would like to donate by wire transfer or check and you want to receive one of the remaining 2D Goggles prints, please contact us to let us know your donation is on the way so that we can reserve one for you for a short period.

The Ada Initiative loves Sydney’s work and we’ve enjoyed sharing it with you! We’re also looking forward to introducing you to Colin Adams, who designed the custom portrait of Ada Lovelace that will be given to Analytical Engineer donors who don’t receive a 2D Goggles print. More on Colin and his work soon!

The Ada Initiative Seed 100 campaign: donate in June to support women in open technology and culture

Seed 100 update: glass is one third full

We’re optimists, as you can tell. So are you – we are amazed and honoured by how many of our supporters donated at the Analytical Engineer level! Thank you!

After one week, we have 37 donors out of our target of 100. With three weeks to go, and the usual trend in donations, we think we can make our target, but only with your help. If you can donate at either the Difference Engineer or Analytical Engineer level, please do. If not, you can help us by spreading the word.

Help spread the word

Donna Benjamin, who designed the red and black Ada Initiative artwork we’ve used in several places, including the Linux Pro magazine ads, has designed new web badges for any of our donors who want to spread the word, here’s a sample:

Difference Engineer: I donated to the Ada InitiativeAnalytical Engineer: I donated to the Ada Initiative

Mary also took Donna’s bases and went sailing way out past the edge of her previous Inkscape and Javascript/jQuery knowledge to bring you a little progress meter banner to display how much of the glass remains empty.

The Ada Initiative Seed 100 campaign: donate in June to support women in open technology and culture

Get the source for all the banners at spread the word, and thanks (again) Donna.

When Lovelace met Babbage

Lovelace and Babbage: They Fight Crime

Lovelace and Babbage: They Fight Crime

June 5 was the 178th anniversary of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage’s first meeting, the birth of a decades-long collaboration on computer hardware and software that nearly launched the computer age a century sooner than actually happened. Oh, and also, it inspired the name for a non-profit supporting women in open technology and culture 177 years later. Sydney Padua had some great anecdotes and links in her Twitter feed, first to InfoStory’s post on their first meeting:

James Gleick writes in The Information: Babbage saw a sparkling, self-possessed young woman with porcelain features and a notorious name, who managed to reveal that she knew more mathematics than most men graduating from university. She saw an imposing forty-one-year-old, authoritative eyebrows anchoring his strong-boned face, who possessed wit and charm and did not wear these qualities lightly. He seemed a kind of visionary–just what she was seeking. She admired the machine, too.”

In honour of the occasion, Sydney Padua, designer of the limited edition 2D Goggles print available to our Analytical Engineer donors, tweeted that she put the finishing touches to the print. The limited edition run of 25 signed prints is now nearly two thirds gone, with 9 prints remaining for Analytical Engineer level donations. Donate now to receive one of the remaining prints.

Sydney also told a tweet-story about Mary Sommerville, the nineteenth century science writer at whose party Lovelace and Babbage met:

Today’s factoid: Lovelace met Babbage not at one of his famous parties, but at mutual friend Mary Sommerville’s.

Mary Sommerville
— I’m trying to find a good spot in comic for her; she’s sort of Yoda to Ada’s Luke.

She literally wrote the book on Calculus and had a bust in the Royal Society, but she couldn’t see it because she wasn’t allowed in.

Being a woman and all, she would have gotten cooties on their Science.

Anyways Sommerville College in Oxford is named after her.

When they put her bust in the RS they had a big meeting over should they invite her, and she very tactfully said she couldn’t come anyways.

Thanks to all of our donors and supporters for helping us create a space for women in technology that Ada Lovelace and Mary Sommerville never had.

The Ada Initiative Seed 100 campaign: donate in June to support women in open technology and culture

Seed 100 update: 16 "Lovelace and Babbage" prints left

Lovelace and Babbage: They Fight Crime

Lovelace and Babbage: They Fight Crime

Ada Lovelace portrait

Ada Lovelace portrait

Thanks to our awesome supporters, the first day of the Seed 100 fund-raising campaign far exceeded our expectations! In the first 24 hours, we signed up 11 Analytical Engineers and 5 Difference Engineers. Only 16 “Lovelace and Babbage” prints signed by Sydney Padua are left. (25 – 11 = 14, not 16, but one Analytical Engineer wanted the Ada Lovelace portrait and another opted out of gifts.)

Apparently no one told our donors that feminists are supposed to be humorless. Here are a few funny tidbits from the first day.

We thought setting donations to powers of two was clever, but Matthias Urlichs went one better and donated $1337. Can you improve on that?

Bruce Byfield admires our taste in schwag and points out one of his favorite 2D Goggles jokes: Ada Lovelace is “the ‘person from Porlock‘ who interrupted Samuel Taylor Coleridge while he was writing ‘Kubla Kahn’ and made him forget the rest of the poem before he could jot it down (she bores him with actuary tables).” HA HA POETRY HUMOR! Almost as much fun as mathematics humor!

Who is the mysterious Anonymous Donor #1? He quips, “My friends call me ‘Anon.'” We call him “Awesome.”

Thanks to everyone who donated so far! We’re looking forward to the rest of the Seed 100 fund-raising campaign!

The Ada Initiative Seed 100 campaign: donate in June to support women in open technology and culture

Donate to the Ada Initiative: Seed 100 funding round opens

Update: The Seed 100 round successfully closed early on June 24th with 100 donors. Thank you to our generous Seed 100 donors for funding our early work and showing the depth of community support for the Ada Initiative.

While the rewards of the Seed 100 round are no longer available, if you would like to contribute to the Ada Initiative monetarily, please consider becoming a sponsor at the Venture Philanthropist or higher levels (contact for packages).

The most important form of support is not money, it’s small, every day actions by people like you. If you’d like to help with the Ada Initiative’s work, the best thing you can do is follow our work and announcements on our blog, mailing lists, Twitter feed, or other channel. Please sign up today! We are committed to high-signal, low-noise communication.

The Ada Initiative Seed 100 campaign: we reached 100 donors. Thank you!

Python programmer

At the Ada Initiative, we have a vision: A world in which women are equal and welcome participants in open technology, open data, and open culture. We want women writing free software, women editing Wikipedia, women creating the Internet and women shaping the future of global society. Here’s what we are doing to make that happen.

Mozilla organizer

We need your help to make that vision a reality. Join the Seed 100 funding round for the Ada Initiative today! Seed money raised through this drive will go to pay for vital but unglamorous work necessary to raise larger long-term funding. Seed money from funders like you is crucial to the success of the Ada Initiative.

The Seed 100 funding round is a high-prestige, limited availability funding round. As such, it is limited to 100 donors total, of $512 or more, between June 1st and June 30th, 2011. This is a unique opportunity to show your personal support for women in open technology and culture, at a time when a personal donation will have the most effect. We have two donation levels:

Difference Engineer ($512 – $1023)

Analytical Engineer ($1024 and up)

  • Everything from the Difference Engineer level, plus
  • A signed, framing quality Ada Lovelace print

Keep reading for more about our gifts and frequently asked questions.

Donation alternatives.

The Seed 100 round closed on June 24th with 100 donors. Thank you to our generous Seed 100 donors for funding our early work.

The Ada Initiative is now seeking major sponsors. Please consider becoming a sponsor at the Venture Philanthropist or higher levels (contact for packages).

The most important form of support is not money, it’s small, every day actions by people like you. If you’d like to help with the Ada Initiative’s work, the best thing you can do is follow our work and announcements on our blog, mailing lists, Twitter feed, or other channel. Please sign up today! We are committed to high-signal, low-noise communication.

More about thank-you gifts

Our once-off thank you gifts for Seed 100 donors are:

Signed print (Analytical Engineer level only)

Lovelace and Babbage: They Fight Crime

Limited edition Lovelace and Babbage print

Early donors at the Analytical Engineer level receive a signed print from Sydney Padua’s web comic 2D Goggles: The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage. The web comic takes place in an alternate reality in which Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage successfully build the worlds first computers and use them to… fight crime, of course! (See our rave review of the comic here.) This is a high-resolution glossy print, approximately 11″x15″ in size. This print is a limited edition of 25.

Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace portrait

Later donors at the Analytical Engineer level receive a framing-quality 11″x15″ print of a portrait of Ada Lovelace commissioned especially for this fund-raising drive and signed by either Valerie or Mary. This print is a high-resolution portrait in a 19th-century engraving style by professional illustrator Colin Adams, who designed and drew the popular LinuxChix “Robotux” logo.

Ada Initiative laptop sticker

Laptop sticker

Laptop sticker

Show your support for the Ada Initiative with this black, red, and white laptop sticker (approximately 3″x5″), signed by one of our co-founders, Valerie or Mary. We’ll even add a (short!) message of your choice, just tell us in the notes field of the donation form. The sticker is designed by Donna Benjamin.

Ada Initiative conference badge lanyard

Make a statement at every conference you attend! This confererence badge lanyard is black, red, and white, and is printed with the words “The Ada Initiative” and “Supporting women in open technology and culture.” It’s an easy way to meet people at conferences who share your interests.

Your name on our Seed 100 funder’s list for all time

The Ada Initiative will keep a list of the Seed 100 funders on its web site permanently. If you want to be anonymous, or be listed as something other than your name, just tell us in the notes field of the donation form.

Limited availability

Apache docs writer

Total seed funders are limited to 100. After the first 100 donors, you can still donate, you just wont be a seed funder. The Seed 100 round is open for only 30 days, from June 1 to June 30, 2011. If you want to be a seed funder, donate before then. Lovelace and Babbage prints signed by Sydney Padua are limited to 25.


Q. I want to donate less than $512. Why is the minimum donation so large?

A. The short version is that each individual online donation has a surprising amount of overhead in the form of paperwork, reporting, and fees. We need to do more work before we can accept smaller donations and not lose money overall! We are working on being able to take smaller donations soon. Until then, sign up to the donor info mailing list and we will email you when we can take smaller donations.

Q. I can’t donate $512 but I really want to help. What else can I do?

A. We value and appreciate everyone who wants to help. One way you can help is by signing up to the supporters mailing list. We email this list for feedback, suggestions, and when we need volunteers and people to take action. As we raise money to develop our programs, we will have more and more ways for individual people to make a difference in their everyday lives.

And, of course, spread the word about the Seed 100 campaign!

Q. Id like to donate more than $1024, is that okay?

A. Yes, please go right ahead! Use the “donate other amount” button. Do consider emailing us directly at about donations over $5,000 – that makes you an Angel Funder, after all, and you might not want to miss out on the benefits of that!

Q. I can’t/dont want to donate through PayPal. Can I donate some other way?

A. Yes, just email us at and well tell you how to send a check or other form of payment. Well save your place in line” based on your email if your payment arrives within a week. Future fund-raising drives will have more options for online payment.

Q. Will my donation be tax-deductible in the U.S.?

A. The short answer is probably.” But we have to say exactly the right thing here for legal reasons, so please excuse our legalese for a moment!


The Ada Initiative is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, but we have not yet been certified as tax-exempt by the IRS. We are in the process of applying for tax-exempt status. Although donors have no assurance that contributions are tax-deductible for federal income tax purposes until the application is approved, contributions made while our application is pending would qualify if the application is approved. However, if the application is disallowed, contributions would not qualify.


In other words, we’re working on becoming tax-exempt, we dont know any reason why we shouldnt get tax-exempt status, and well email you a receipt if/when we get tax-exempt status. Until then, dont plan on being able to deduct it from your taxes.

Q. Will my donation be tax-deductible in any country other than the U.S.?

A. No, donations will not be tax-deductible in any other country.

Q. Can we pool money from several people/organizations to donate?

A. Yes, as long as the donation to us comes in one lump sum through PayPal or other form of payment. Just tell us the name you want to appear on the seed funders list in the notes field of the donation form.

Q. Can I donate anonymously?

A. Yes, just write Anonymous” in the notes field of the donation form and we will list you as Anonymous Donor #N” on the seed funders list.

Q. I dont want some/all of the thank-you gifts. Can I skip that?

A. Yes, either don’t fill in your shipping address, in which case we won’t send you anything, or say which gifts you don’t want in the notes field of the donation form.

Q. Why Difference Engineer” and Analytical Engineer?”

A. The pioneering inventor Charles Babbage designed two calculating machines beginning in the 1820s, the Difference Engine and the Analytical Engine. The Difference Engine was essentially a very large mechanical calculator – capable of generating tables of numbers but not programmable and not a general-purpose computer. The Analytical Engine was the worlds first design for a general-purpose, Turing-complete computer. Countess Ada Lovelace, the Ada Initiatives namesake, wrote the worlds first computer program for the (as yet unbuilt) Analytical Engine in 1843. “Difference Engineer” and “Analytical Engineer” are imaginary titles for the people who would have programmed and run Babbage’s engines if they had been built in his time.

Q. I still have questions. How can I get more information?

A. Just email and well get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks!