Under the Hood of Technology – my Ada Lovelace Tribute to Dorte Toft

Sometimes there is a bit too much oohing and aahing over the bling and not enough discussion of how the bling got there.

Hey, I like fancy gadgets and cool technology as much as the next geek girl. I know that fancy gadget didn’t just materialize out of thin air. There are no replicators around here, either. So how does cool tech get here? Where does bling come from?

It comes from the neurons in brains shooting messages back and forth around the brain at lightening speed. Brain activity, that is. Thinking. Wondering. Someone has to think up this bling and do so standing on the shoulders of those who have been thinking and wondering earlier.

If we want more cool tech in our lives, we need more people to gain knowledge about these things through learning, teaching, collaborating, and creating. And lots of hard work.

We need young children, especially girls, to look at the cool technology and not say “I want that”, but say “I want to know how that works and I want to make things like that, too”.

While there are women out there touting technology products, some women are aware of something more crucial – the need for some girls to help make that technology.

Dorte Toft is one such woman. As stated in the Danish wikipedia entry on Dorte, she is a Danish journalist. She blogs in Danish about many IT topics, including management, security, and investments. Apparently, she describes herself as a “devil’s advocate”. Her persistence in getting to the bottom of matters led to the downfall of Stein Bagger, a man you could perhaps call a Danish Bernie Madoff. She received a number of awards for her high-quality and excellent journalism. (What a shame that the English wikipedia article about Stein Bagger doesn’t mention Dorte at all.)

Her area of expertise is information technology, most likely coming from her first education as a developer. She knows what she is talking about when she writes her blog posts for technology and business blogs. She values knowledge.

A few years ago, she started a project to educate people in all the opportunities girls can have by getting an education in the “hard” subjects like technology, IT, and the natural sciences. You could say that she wanted to get at the heart of why more girls weren’t studying the highly technical subjects in school. Her journalism drove her and her expertise supplied the quality. The project resulted in a book, “Lykkelig i Nørdland” (literally “Happy in Nerdland”). You can explore her project, perhaps with the support of Google Translate, at the Danish-language blog Lykkelig i Nørdland.

The reason I admire Dorte Toft and chose her as my Ada Lovelace Day “tributee” is because she gets at the real heart of the issue of technology. It’s about education and stimulating an interest in technology, IT, and sciences. We shouldn’t be encouraging all our little girls to get 15 minutes of fame on some talent show or to fight for the spotlight in Hollywood or Bollywood with millions of others. We need to get them drooling over the thought of changing lives for the better through development of the technology that can develop our society, provide creative outlets, and improve lives.

Dorte Toft isn’t so much about the cool tech as she is about what’s behind the cool tech. I think that is a far more powerful a position to take. We have so many engineers and technicians and designers to thank for the technology that we enjoy every day. Their ranks will always need refilling and we need to encourage more girls to do that. We need diversity in the creators to meet the needs of the diversity of the world.

A big thanks to Dorte Toft for her constant reminders about the joys of nerdland as well as its importance in our lives. Education in science and technology is what puts the bling in bling!

3 replies on “Under the Hood of Technology – my Ada Lovelace Tribute to Dorte Toft”

  1. Thank you for getting Dorte some well-deserved attention, I wouldn’t know about her without you – even though I work in Denmark frequently.

    And thank you for another thought-through, passionate post – I’m looking forward to the next one already! 🙂

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