Tuesday poem for Ada Lovelace Day: When geeks were women

October 15, 2013

When geeks were women

or one woman.
Lovelace, unknotting expectations
into programmes; cognition dancing.
Father’s couplets sounding through
the could-be Difference Engine cogs,
but twirling in pas de deux maths;
poetry dressed and transmogrified.

‘Supposing, for instance…’
you saw a computer writing music;
an Aeolian harp catching numbers,
driven by numbers, until numbers
were the musician and the song.
No mere calculator; you sang too.
Your thoughts ring in history’s ear.

Medicine lagged behind your mind,
and the small number 36
is all the years you had. Cancer
bloomed inside your womb;
a sick reminder of biology.
No algorithm could remove that fate.
The same age as your unknown father

who died heroic on the shores of myth.
Ada, when I Google you,
I think of you holding a fan
(lace as elegant as your ideas)
and I want to shout back through clogged time
to deafen sad boors who still say no:
Ada, it works! My dear, it works!

*
‘Supposing, for instance’ is a quotation from Ada Lovelace’s writing. Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (1815 – 1852), born Augusta Ada Byron, wrote the world’s first algorithm.

P.S.Cottier

(Note that the first line is supposed to be properly broken into two; so that the words ‘or one woman’ occur at the extreme right of the line. My blog — or, more probably, my ancient difference engine — doesn’t seem to like cleverness today!)
Ada_Lovelace_portrait

Ada Lovelace was a scientist/mathematician back when women really didn’t do that sort of thing. There are still places where women don’t get any education at all, and even in highly developed countries, there are far fewer women than men who manage to occupy the highest research positions in academia.

But raise a glass to all the women who do science, including Ada Lovelace, all those years ago. Then click this link, for further poesie. You may put your glass down first:
Tuesday Poem

4 Responses to “Tuesday poem for Ada Lovelace Day: When geeks were women”

  1. It’s always good to see Ada Lovelace remembered, and especially with such a fine poem as this!

    • pscottier said

      If only most scientists looked like that, whether male, female, or intersex…Yum!

      I should follow that up with something intellectual and serious, but I can’t right now.

  2. Thanks for this lovely tribute to Ada. Not knowing anythng about her except from your poem I went searching and discovered this
    webpage…http://metro.co.uk/2013/10/15/ada-lovelace-day-a-celebration-of-the-worlds-first-computer-programmer-4145367/
    it had just been posted and declares Lord Byron as he father so that makes your poem even more auspicious. 🙂

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