Tag Archives: meet an adacamper

Meet an AdaCamper: Stephanie Alarcon

Applications to AdaCamp DC are still open! (Last day!) We’re excited to introduce some of our accepted AdaCampers, to give you a sense of who you’ll meet if you come along.

Photograph of Stephanie Alarcon

by Becca Refford, CC BY

Tell us a little about your home community and/or your work.

I am a sysadmin, hackerspace organizer, and treehugger. I live in Philadelphia, where I work at an academic library keeping their Linux systems humming. I also help organize The Hacktory , a space for making, learning, and experimenting. My other big interest is electronic waste, which was the topic of my master’s thesis in environmental studies.

What is (one of) your key open techology/culture communities or projects? What do you enjoy about it?

I’ve always gotten a kick out of being part of the open source movement simply by choosing to work with open source operating systems and software. Though I don’t make these things, I do help them proliferate.

My early experiences with the open source philosophy completely clicked with the DIY mentality I grew up with, so it was an easy fit. The idea that you should be able to take your stuff apart and see what it’s made of has become engrained in how I think about everything. When the hackerspace movement took root in the US a few years ago, it too was an easy fit. I’d been hanging out with geek friends experimenting with fun things from fermentation to RFID to using iron filings suspended in oil to look at the pattern in a credit card mag stripe. So when the idea became more formalized into shared spaces where people could do this all the time, it spoke to me. Even more than that, I was drawn to the idea of using these spaces to learn and teach. I love helping people discover that tech stuff is way less intimidating than it looks. I like subtly ushering people to the realization that their fear is probably based more on someone else’s confusing explanation or investment in making it look difficult, than in the learner’s ability to grasp it. Open technology makes it easy, or at least possible, to open the hood and see how simple or complex a tool really is. That turns untouchable mysteries into puzzles to play with. That distinction is very empowering.

Photograph of Stephanie Alarcon using a soldering iron

by JJ Tiziou, used with permission

How has being a woman in your community changed during your involvement in it?

It’s hard to say what has changed for women and what has changed for me personally. Certainly it’s much easier to hold my own in a technical discussion than it was when I first started out, but that may have as much to do with getting comfortable in my own skin than any sea change for women in the tech world. The numbers of women system administrators haven’t budged much since I fell into it.

However, it’s undeniable that over the past 2–3 years, the collective voice of women in tech has gained a strength that I’ve never seen. It’s so refreshing to see woman-positive projects like PyStar, and simultaneously see incidents of sexism regularly recognized, called out, and addressed. There’s now a critical mass of people who are unwilling to tolerate sexist stupidity, and these days if you speak out against it, it’s easier to believe that you won’t be alone. This is a credit to women having the courage to stand their ground, and to our allies who are willing to face the problem, recognize that this is hurting everyone, and say enough is enough.

Outside of your involvement with open technology/culture, what are you interested in and working on?

I love working on bikes, recycled sewing projects, and old houses. I’d like to get into e-textile design, specifically from an environmental perspective. How can we make amazing washable technology that avoids the e-waste problems we already have? Last, I’m told that the bulge in my abdomen indicates that I should expect a tiny human spawn to emerge late this summer! It’s super exciting to think about greeting my little one, and working toward improving the childcare and education systems for all of us. My housemates have already noted that we’ll have to make some calculus textbooks available on our shelves for curious young readers to discover. :-)

Are you planning to propose any sessions at AdaCamp? What will they be?

Yes. My friends from The Hacktory and I are hoping to present a hands-on workshop that we wrote called “Hacking the Gender Gap”. You can read about it here: http://www.thehacktory.org/?p=2471


The Ada Initiative thanks our AdaCamp DC sponsors for making the event possible.

Thank you to our Gold level sponsor the Wikimedia Foundation.

Thank you to our Silver level sponsors: the Linux Foundation, Intel, Facebook, Red Hat, Collabora and Yammer.

Meet an AdaCamper: Leslie Birch

Applications to AdaCamp DC are still open! (Closing Friday!) We’re excited to introduce some of our accepted AdaCampers, to give you a sense of who you’ll meet if you come along.

Photograph of Leslie Birch

Leslie Birch, self-portrait

What’s your name, or pseudonym?

Leslie Birch – “Zengirl”

Tell us a little about your home community and/or your work.

I’m in Philly in what I would now call its “Era of Creativity”. I haven’t seen this much art, entrepreneurship and green culture since the 90’s! With that being said, despite all of this greatness, it’s still hard to find ways to connect with women in tech areas — especially interactive/electronics. By day I have my own production company, creating videos for nonprofits, and by night I like to dabble with ideas for interactive pieces. That includes anything from a geisha style hair ornament that changes light patterns with the tilt of a head, to the idea of creating a touch sensitive spider’s web that makes nature sounds. I like art that reminds people that they are alive and puts them smack dab in the moment.

What is (one of) your key open techology/culture communities or projects? What do you enjoy about it?

I think all of this started with Wired Magazine and their NextFest. I just found myself interested in things that light up and go beep LOL. I was lucky enough to stumble across an art/tech/education group in Philly called The Hacktory. I remember taking my first class on LED “throwies”, and then another doing a chocolate mold that was created with a vacuum press, and then progressed to a basic class on Arduino Micro-controllers. I finally got the guts together to teach a class on soft circuits — a glowing felt flower that uses conductive thread, and now I find myself interested in almost anything with sensors. I think what I enjoy the most about all of this is that you don’t have to go to MIT or have a degree to participate. One of the miracles of the web is that you can learn anything, from soldering to making textiles into sensors — it’s just a huge library open 24/7 — I thrive on that. I think there is also the thrill that a lot of women aren’t involved yet — it’s kind of like being an explorer and there is the fun of sharing it and growing it. I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that entry into one area, means entry into all areas. If you had asked me a few years ago if I would ever touch a micro-controller, the answer probably would have been “no”. Now, I’ll ask questions and touch anything that I see — I think the latest was looking at the programming for the Kinect while at another Hacktory gathering. My only fear is running out of time to see and do it all!

How has being a woman in your community changed during your involvement in it?

This is a deep question that I’m still digging at. I will have this ready by the time AdaCamp rolls around.

Outside of your involvement with open technology/culture, what are you interested in and working on?

The problem of homelessness in Philly really bothers me. So, I’ve been working on an idea for a tv show where a sock puppet named “Joy” spreads her good ideas about how to help people each day. Think random acts of kindness crossed with the idea of dispelling myths about homeless people. It’s amazing how one idea can spur so much collaboration — we now have a professional puppet, a theme song, and soon a virtual backdrop for the show. I recently had an interview with the real “Big Bird”, which was also amazing. Any other spare time I have is spent outdoors — volunteering at a Japanese Garden, birding, boating or camping and indoors — cooking up some vegan fare or doing seated meditation. It all falls into the bigger picture of practicing Zen Buddhism for me. Sometimes I worry about whether I’m going to become a monk myself, but then I remember that I’m not supposed to be thinking about the future.

Are you planning to propose any sessions at AdaCamp? What will they be?

Let’s just say amongst my camping friends I’m considered the Arts&Crafts Counselor. There may be a late night “come gather and let’s do this kit” thingy. And yes, it will include light or sound. Well, that depends on whether you are allowed to have open fires in DC. ;)


The Ada Initiative thanks our AdaCamp DC sponsors for making the event possible.

Thank you to our Gold level sponsor the Wikimedia Foundation.

Thank you to our Silver level sponsors: the Linux Foundation, Intel, Facebook, Red Hat, Collabora and Yammer.

Meet an AdaCamper: Sophia Chung

Applications to AdaCamp DC are still open! We’re excited to introduce some of our accepted AdaCampers, to give you a sense of who you’ll meet if you come along.

Photograph of Sophia Chung

Tell us a little about your home community and/or your work.

I’m a software engineer at Facebook. I’ve been in the industry for over 9 years and have worked at Hewlett-Packard, Electronic Arts, Google, and now Facebook.

What is (one of) your key open techology/culture communities or projects? What do you enjoy about it?

I’m currently working on Facebook’s Open Graph — an open protocol to help integrate 3rd party sites and apps to the social experience. At Facebook, the mission is to “make the world more open and connected” and with the Open Graph people are able to express themselves though outside networks, activities, and apps.

I’ve loved social media since the early days of the Internet. Since middle school I’ve been on Bulletin Board Systems and chat rooms. I’ve been fascinated at how quickly the Internet has evolved into an invaluable medium of communication.

Are you planning to propose any sessions at AdaCamp? What will they be?

Session idea: Social media and the Open Graph protocol

I would love to host a session about social media today, how it’s changed over time, and the open protocol to integrate as a 3rd party site to Facebook. It would be about how social media is used these days to define user identity and provide brand distribution.


The Ada Initiative thanks our AdaCamp DC sponsors for making the event possible.

Thank you to our Gold level sponsor the Wikimedia Foundation.

Thank you to our Silver level sponsors: the Linux Foundation, Intel, Facebook, Red Hat, Collabora and Yammer.

Meet an AdaCamper: Kendra Albert

Applications to AdaCamp DC are still open! We’re excited to introduce some of our accepted AdaCampers, to give you a sense of who you’ll meet if you come along.

Photograph of Kendra Albert, with laptop

Name: Kendra Albert (@KendraSerra on Twitter)

Home Community/Work: I work at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, where I provide support for an open source project called H2O – an online textbook platform built on ideas of open source software and creative remixing. Our aim is to disrupt the legal textbook market within the next two to three years.

I also am deeply interested in how technology manufacturers and platform vendors are exerting increasing amounts of control over the code we can run on our computers – from Apple’s Mac App Store to Windows 8 Secure Boot. We’re at a pivotal moment in the history of computing, because the generative experience we’ve come to enjoy with computers is not set in stone. It needs protecting.

Woman in the Community: As a woman who has a non-technical background, I often feel that some of my time is spent establishing that I know enough to discuss the topics I’m interested in. It also took me a while to convince myself I knew enough to talk about the topics I was interested in – classic impostor syndrome. The realization that a lot of women go through this same process had led me to be far more passionate about creating safe spaces and environments where there isn’t an emphasis on formal qualifications.

I’m very conscious of the dearth of female role models in the cyberlaw field – there are some amazing women who do work in the area, like Susan Crawford, Elizabeth Stark and Wendy Seltzer, but certainly not enough!

Outside of Involvement with Open Tech/Culture: On the tech side, I’m interested in privacy and cybersecurity, and how to not give up on the possibility of either. In my free time, I’m a gamer, with a recent addiction to Diablo 3, and I also love cooking, interesting food and coffee. Finally, I’m a dedicated skeptic, and former blogger for the queer skeptical website Queereka, part of Rebecca Watson’s Skepchick network.


The Ada Initiative thanks our AdaCamp DC sponsors for making the event possible.

Thank you to our Gold level sponsor the Wikimedia Foundation.

Thank you to our Silver level sponsors: the Linux Foundation, Intel, Facebook, Red Hat, Collabora and Yammer.

Meet an AdaCamper: Netha Hussain

Applications to AdaCamp DC are still open! We’re excited to introduce some of our accepted AdaCampers, to give you a sense of who you’ll meet if you come along.

Photograph of Netha Hussain

Netha Hussain, self-portrait. Creative Commons BY-SA.

Tell us a little about your home community and/or your work.

I have been working with Wikimedia projects as a volunteer since May 2010. Presently, I am active in English and Malayalam (a regional language spoken by people of Kerala, India) Wikipedias and Wikimedia Commons. I am interested in medicine, gender issues and translation. On Wikipedia, I create and edits articles related to medicine, surgery, pharmacology, pathology and other pre and para medical subjects. I am a member of WikiProject Feminism and Welcoming committee. I am involved in translating articles from English Wikiprojects to Malayalam Wikiprojects. I am an Online ambassador in English Wikipedia and I am involved in helping new editors to edit English Wikipedia.

What is (one of) your key open techology/culture communities or projects? What do you enjoy about it?

Wikipedia Malayalam. What I enjoy the most about it is the learning process involved in writing/editing articles for Wikipedia.

How has being a woman in your community changed during your involvement in it?

In 2010, when I started editing Malayalam Wikipedia, I was the only woman active contributor. I took initiative in bringing a few dropped out women editors back to editing Wikipedia. I improved articles on women’s biographies and women’s health. I took part in outreach programs for women. I was the only representative from India to take part in WikiWomenCamp, the conference for women Wikimedians held at Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Outside of your involvement with open technology/culture, what are you interested in and working on?

I am a medical student. I am actively involved in patient care activities of my college where students provide assistance to patients seeking financial and social help. I am interested in quizzing and literary activities.

Are you planning to propose any sessions at AdaCamp? What will they be?

I would like to propose a session on ‘Wikipedia and Women’ at Ada Camp. I would be talking in detail about the changes women brought about in Wikipedia and also about gender gap issues faced by women in Wikipedia.


The Ada Initiative thanks our AdaCamp DC sponsors for making the event possible.

Thank you to our Gold level sponsor the Wikimedia Foundation.

Thank you to our Silver level sponsors: the Linux Foundation, Intel, Facebook, Red Hat, Collabora and Yammer.

Meet an AdaCamper: Jessica McKellar

Applications to AdaCamp DC are still open! We’re excited to introduce some of our accepted AdaCampers, to give you a sense of who you’ll meet if you come along.

Photograph of Jessica McKellar

Boston Python Workshop, used with permission

What’s your name, or pseudonym?

Jessica McKellar, jesstess on most of the Internet, @jessicamckellar on Twitter.

Tell us a little about your home community and/or your work.

I live in Somerville, Massachusetts, USA. I am a kernel engineer in the Ksplice group at Oracle.

What is (one of) your key open technology/culture communities or projects? What do you enjoy about it?

I am an organizer for the Boston Python user group – the largest Python user group in the world with over 2**11 members. With this group I run the Boston Python Workshop, a hugely successful programming outreach pipeline for women that has brought over 300 women into the local programming community and boosted representation by women at local Python user group events from 2% to 15% in the last 18 months. The Workshop is also a platform for dozens of women programmers to take leadership and teaching roles in the Python community, and to inspire other programming user groups to run diversity outreach events.

Through grants from the Python Software Foundation and the Anita Borg institute, the Workshop has hit the road to help Python user groups bootstrap introductory programming events for women in Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and Portland. Our content is all online and Creative Commons-licensed and has been reused and remixed by intro events for women and men around the world.

I gave a talk with Asheesh Laroia at PyCon 2012 about the successes and challenges of the Boston Python Workshop:

Diversity in practice: How the Boston Python User Group grew to 1700 people and over 15% women

How has being a woman in your community changed during your involvement in it?

Photograph of Jessica McKellar and Boston Python Workshop participants

© Boston Python Workshop, used with permission

As a Python community organizer (beyond being a Boston Python user group organizer, I am on the Python Software Foundation Board of Directors and the PSF Outreach and Education Committee), I am constantly reflecting on how we are doing and what we can do better to welcome and encourage people of all backgrounds in all aspect of our community, from user groups and conferences to Python core development and open source projects that use Python.

I spend a lot of my time with the PSF encouraging not only participation but leadership by women in the Python community.

Are you planning to propose any sessions at AdaCamp?

Yes!

  1. Organizing First Patch workshops for women
  2. Change from within: running outreach events for women in programming and open technology user groups

The Ada Initiative thanks our AdaCamp DC sponsors for making the event possible.

Thank you to our Gold level sponsor the Wikimedia Foundation.

Thank you to our Silver level sponsors: the Linux Foundation, Intel, Facebook, Red Hat, Collabora and Yammer.

Meet an AdaCamper: Chit Thiri Maung

Applications to AdaCamp DC are still open! We’re excited to introduce some of our accepted AdaCampers, to give you a sense of who you’ll meet if you come along.

Many Voices One Mozilla postcard featuring Chit Thiri Maung
My name is Chit Thiri Maung, In Burmese community they known me as “ahkeno” which is my blog name and nick name.

Tell us a little about your home community and/or your work.

Currently I working as Web Developer working with open source CMS (Joomla, Drupal, WordPress) and PHP, Javascript, and CSS.Then here is my opensource volunteering project I’m leading for Mozilla Myanmar Community .We have been created at last year 2011 July. Now we have official website http://mozillamyanmar.org/. I also leading for Burmese localization at Mozilla product (like: Firefox Aurora).

What is (one of) your key open technology/culture communities or projects? What do you enjoy about it?

Open Source! I have been familiar with this words since 2008. I started work with on Joomla after finished my Master Degree. Joomla is first one I work on and Firefox is my default browser!

Last 4 years,In Myanmar we don’t have good connection and we gave expensive money for using Internet (expensive than these days). So we used internet at Cyber Cafe. First I start met with Firefox as Cyber Cafe. I start used it and like it so much! Lucky I didn’t start use internet with IE. Then days by days passed I work on Company, I used Opensource product every day, I delight to use Open source product. Then I started dream that’s open source community will grow up in Myanmar.

First I try was Joomla Myanmar Community.I made event at CMS’s camp Manadalay 2011 and talk/shared about Joomla at BarcampMDY2011.

After that’s I start work on Mozrep at 2011 June (this time). All my dream come true for I can make Mozilla Myanmar community. I spread out Mozilla Love with volunteers at BarcampYGN2012 and BarcampMDY2012.

Here are all my blog post there!

One thing I proud to be Mozillian is, I had attend Mozcamp Asia 2011 at November. We met Super awesome Mozillian. Share ideas, learn each other and exchanging knowledge. Because of this empower, we made 93% of Localization with enthusiastic contributors.

I have lot of story about Open Source and Mozilla Love! All this stuff are summarize of my open source love :)
Here is my blogpost of Being Remo.

How has being a woman in your community changed during your involvement in it?

Before I answer this question.I want to talk about woman Aung San Suu Kyi. Hope Everybody know her! Being she is not from Technology field, she is the one I admire! Also another woman who I admirer : Mitchell Baker.

Talk on our Burmese IT Community, women are not too much. I’m the one who leading Mozilla Community. So everyday I faced challenging for working together with men.

Outside of your involvement with open technology/culture, what are you interested in and working on?

If I not working computer, I love talking with people, learning something (now I learn French), taking photos, travel sometime and hang out with my beloved MoM.


The Ada Initiative thanks our AdaCamp DC sponsors for making the event possible.

Thank you to our Gold level sponsor the Wikimedia Foundation.

Thank you to our Silver level sponsors: the Linux Foundation, Intel, Facebook, Red Hat, Collabora and Yammer.