Ada Lovelace Day: 7 October 2011

As announced on the front page of the site a few weeks ago, the date of this year’s Ada Lovelace Day has moved to Friday 7 October 2011. Please put it in your diary!

I didn’t take the decision to change the date lightly. We’ve had two years of ALD being in March, and it was starting to become a bit of a tradition, so the idea of moving it to later in the year has worried me a bit, as I don’t want to lose momentum. But by early January it had become clear that things just weren’t going to be ready in time.

Although I have had some fabulous help from some wonderful people, the responsibility for getting things moving still lies with me, and the last six months has seen me incredibly busy with work. We’re in the middle of a recession, so I feel grateful for having such a full diary, but the knock-on effect has been that I’ve not been able to give this year’s Ada Lovelace Day the love it deserves.

It turns out that March is a supremely bad time of year to have a recurring event. Despite trying to get things moving towards the end of last summer, I didn’t make much progress and before you know it, it’s Christmas and everyone’s really busy, and then New Year has come round and suddenly things aren’t ready and it’s all getting a bit tight. Add a trip to India in February to the mix and deadlines throughout March and it became clear to me that something had to change.

The March date was always arbitrary, picked because I was too impatient to wait any longer! The October date has been picked because it’s far enough away that it gives us a chance to get our ducks in a row, but also because (hopefully!) it doesn’t clash with school and university calendars. I’d very much like to do a bit more outreach this year, and would like to have more resources for teachers, pupils, university lecturers and students. A date that’s in term-time, but not too near Easter or in exam season is a more important consideration now than it was two years ago.

There are other changes afoot too: I’ve also shifted the mailing mailing list from Yahoo to Mailchimp, so provide us with more flexibility. Please do join up – there’s a form in the sidebar to your right. I’ll be sending out monthly updates once we have a few people subscribed, with more updates closer to the big day. You’ll be able to manage your subscription and unsub at any time you like, so take the plunge and subscribe today!

Finally, I do need your help to spread the word about the new date, so please do blog, tell your friends, Twitter, and Facebook followers! Ada Lovelace Day: 7 October 2011.

Posted in Ada Lovelace Day 2011.


  1. I didn’t take the decision to change the date lightly. We’ve had two years of ALD being in March, and it was starting to become a bit of a tradition, so the idea of moving it to later in the year has worried me a bit, as I don’t want to lose momentum. But by early January it had become clear that things just weren’t going to be ready in time.

    Look, this is really not OK at all. A thing like this MUST be consistent. You expect everyone that might be interested to monitor the site continually in case you suddenly decide to change the date? Is Book Month a different month every year? How about Breast Cancer Awareness Month? No!

    Either make yourself be ready, or do it without being ready, but don’t move it. You can’t put “whenever some people feel like it” as a date on your calendar. I don’t really care when it is, but please, please, set a date and leave it alone!

    Thank you,
    Kelly Clowers

  2. I’m sorry you feel so aggrieved, Kelly, but you have to understand that Ada Lovelace Day is run by me, in my spare time, with some help from a few volunteers. We have no budget, and no one is paid to do anything. I pay for the domain and any other expenses out of my own pocket.

    National Book Month is run by the National Book Foundation, supported by the industry and by donations. Breast Cancer Awareness Month appears to be run by Breast Cancer Care, which is a registered charity in the UK. They’ve got money and staff to organise everything, I don’t.

    You say ‘make yourself be ready’, but the fact of the matter is that I’m self-employed, and if work comes in then I have to do it. Unfortunately, serious chunks of work came in right when I had wanted to start getting ALD ready, and I had to take the time to do that work.

    I wouldn’t have moved ALD if it hadn’t been very necessary, but unfortunately it was necessary. ALD is in its third year, and it’s still changing and evolving and finding its feet, it’s not something that’s been planned with a grand vision and a nice budget from day one. It’s an organic, grassroots thing, and as such it is inevitable that the ground is going to shift a bit as I figure out how it can best achieve its goals.

  3. the point is that it’s not just your own organisation here, others have picked this up to be an event, e.g. in Italy they have a price for Best Practices for Women on the Web, and the winning ceremony is held on March 24th, to let it coincide with ALD, so this year they will look somewhat out of sync (or, ALD will be on March 24th in Italy anyway)

  4. Again, really sorry that you’re peeved, Supermambanana, but it was either move it or it not happen at all.

    I’ve actually already spoken to the people in Italy about their ceremony, and to be honest I think it’s no bad thing that our celebration of women in tech isn’t just going to happen on a single day.

  5. I’m not peeved at all 🙂 just pointing out the discrepancy (and yes, it’s nice that women in tech are celebrated all over the year)

  6. Supermambanana, I wouldn’t have moved the date if I thought there was any hope of keeping it in March, but the March date caused problems last year and this, so it really did come down to a choice of either move it or don’t run it. I’d certainly prefer a move to a closure, and I can only hope other people do to.

  7. SUW,

    I am the Chair of a computer department at a large community college. We have been discussing the possibility of giving an award for women in technology and had decided that it might be best to present the award for the first time at a dinner on Ada Lovelace Day. We hope to make this an annual event. However, If the day is uncertain from year-to-year, then we cannot procede.

    Once you start something like an “official” Ada Lovelace Day, it becomes a an event that is bigger than one person, bigger than one organization. It becomes an international cultural event that will grow each year — espcially in the age of the Web and the blogosphere.

    That is is, if it doesn’t change because of one person’s needs or interests, even if that person has singlehandly “created” the day. If this is to be the awareness raising cultural event that it has the potential to become, then it needs to be on the same day every year.

    I have a suggestion — Augusta Ada Lovelace King’s Birthday was born on December 10, 1815. It seems that this woud be a good day of the year to be Ada Augusta day from now on. We will most likely have our Ada awards dinner on Dec. 10, 2011. We will decide over the next few weeks.

  8. Chuck, thanks for your comment.

    Whilst I agree that it’s best not to change things once they are established, there was just no avoiding a change this year I’m afraid. As I’ve said, it was either change the date this time, or not run it. At this stage, the October data is set and is not changing.

    You’re right that Ada Lovelace Day is bigger than one person, but it’s also bigger than one date in the calendar. It’s great that you’re doing some awards, and I encourage you to do them at a time that makes most sense to you. If that happens to be 7 October, then that’s great. If they’re on Ada’s birthday in December, then that’s also great. I hope they go really smoothly and I look forward to hearing about them in due course.

  9. I would like to organize something along the line of remembering Ada and her pioneering work. I can prepare an event in San Juan, Puerto Rico and coordinate it to coincide with ALD. Would you be interested in considering working together with that end?

    Best regards,

    Hans Perl Matanzo

  10. I’m actually really happy it’s changed – March tends to be stupid busy and this year I thought I’d missed it!

    The other thing is reading these comments I think it’s awful that people appear to be angry that Suw has had to move things when she is doing most of this by herself and for free – it even costs her money with domain registration etc…

    She should not be punished for having a great idea – perhaps instead of moaning people should volunteer to help more? Community efforts happen around the community and when they can and can’t do things.

    It should be the concept behind it that matters not when it is – other festivals and things often have events spread out over the year.

    I think we should all be thanking Suw for all the hard work she’s put in and that peoples antagonistic behaviour wont scare her off of doing it all again >:(

  11. “Community efforts happen around the community and when they can and can’t do things.” So agree with that on you Sarah, I couldn’t have said it in a better way. What we all better do is to keep the community spirits up and things will flow naturally from thereon….

    i <3 art | just grabbed coupon codes for postcard prints!

  12. Just like to say thanks for keeping this going! It can be so easy to just bin projects like this when you’re too busy, and as I run a women in science festival each year I’m so glad this day is going to keep happening. There is a lot of grumbling when dates change for events, but if it makes the event better, at a time of year when more energy can go into making it great then its worth it. I’d be happy to volunteer in any way I can, promoting it, helping with website stuff etc just let me know!

  13. Our Technology and Research class at Leksvik Secondary School in Norway is also considering having an event promoting women in technology and science on Ada Lovelace Day. While we can accept the 7 October 2011 date, we would like to second the proposal for a permanent change to 10 December from 2012 and onwards.

  14. As a fellow compsci student, I’d like to offer my thank to you for hosting ALD at all as a way to show my respect for our beloved Ada.

    Keep rocking on, ladies.

  15. Why not alternate ‘Ada Lovelace Day’ so that one year it falls on 24 March, the following year the 7 October. And stop your nitpicking. After all life is just swings and roundabouts, and is for living not looking. You don’t have have to ever confine yourself to just one when you go to the playground.

  16. It would be certainly to have a fixed date, and one provided of some (any) symbolic meaning. December 10th (Ada’s birth), as suggested, is an excellent choice.

    I just wished my computer scientist girlfriend a “Happy Ada Lovelace Day” today and her response was “thanks… but this date seems so… random!” One has to have an answer why a particular date was picked, and it’s much more effective if it’s something related to the cause. The arbitrariness and variance do take away from the symbolic value of the day and, given that celebrating a day is in essence a symbolic act, that value is important.

    Kudos to everyone involved in making things happen. Just wanted to contribute with my 2 cents to the conversation.

  17. I have been a “fan” of Ada Lovelace since 1982, the year I first found about her. It is important , in my opinion, to pick a date that has some significance in connection to her. Personally I have been using December 10, her birthday, for that purpose.

  18. Thank you all for your comments.

    Whilst I appreciate that some would like to see a tighter link between the date of Ada Lovelace Day and key events in her life, I am not going to make another significant change at this stage.

    The thing to remember is that whilst Ada Lovelace is the day’s figurehead, the focus is on all women in technology, science, engineering and maths. There is no specific need for it to be on a significant date from her life and although it would have been nice, we found none that fit in with things like the academic calendar, school term times, bank holidays, etc.

    We thought quite hard about which date to move the day to, once it became clear that March was untenable, and thus we will be sticking with a date around 7 Oct (allowing for weekends etc.).

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