Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine is a picture-book biography of the world’s first computer programmer. Ada was born two hundred years ago, long before the invention of the modern electronic computer. At a time when girls and women had few options outside the home, Ada followed her dreams and studied mathematics. This book, by Laurie Wallmark and April Chu, tells the story of a remarkable woman and her work. Kirkus Reviews describes the book as a “splendidly inspiring introduction to an unjustly overlooked woman.” [starred review]
Laurie’s blog tour hosts had some options in our presentations, so I offered some interview questions that will hopefully show us a different side of Ada. I’ve also included some of the book’s stunning artwork by April Chu.
Still A Dreamer: Having read as much as you have about Ada, what do you imagine Ada would make of social media? If alive today, would she tweet? Have a blog? Be on Facebook? How would she use them?
Laurie: Ada would most definitely use social media as a method of communication with her fellow scientists and mathematicians. She often attended evening salons at Charles Babbage’s house to connect and exchange information. Social media would have allowed her to do this more easily and frequently. Through Facebook and Twitter, she could hear about the many marvels of the Industrial Revolution without waiting for them to be published in scientific journals. With a blog, she could share her many scientific theories and receive feedback from her peers.
SAD: Although Ada might have laughed at the term, she was a visionary. There have been so many technological discoveries since her own, what advances/inventions might Ada make use of were she alive today? How would she have used them to advance her own knowledge?
L: The greatest technological boon to Ada’s studies would be, without doubt, the Internet. As discussed above, social media could provide her with a wealth of information. More than that, websites of organizations like the Royal Society (the UK national academy of science) and individuals like the polymath Mary Somerville would be invaluable. Even seemingly minor inventions, like e-readers, would be useful since Ada was so often ill and confined to bed. With an e-reader, she could easily keep up with her studies.
SAD: Lord Byron the poet was Ada’s father, but had little to do with her upbringing, correct? At any point, to your knowledge, did either acknowledge/praise the wonderful accomplishments of the other?
L: Ada’s mother separated her from Lord Byron when Ada was only one month old. She was never allowed to see or interact with her father after that. Lord Byron, though, lovingly wrote of Ada in his poem, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage:
“Is thy face like thy mother’s, my fair child!
Ada! sole daughter of my house and heart?
When last I saw thy young blue eyes they smiled,
And then we parted—not as now we part—
But with a hope—*
He died when Ada was only nine years old.
SAD: The $54,000 question – How can Ada’s work, which began as a child, reach girls today, (other than buying your book, of course), and inspire them?
L: Several organizations have used Ada’s name as a rallying point for their cause. The Ada Initiative (recently shut down) supported women in open-source technology and culture. One of their major achievements was to formulate a code of conduct signed by most major tech companies for appropriate behavior at technical conferences,. And of course there’s Ada Lovelace Day, a celebration of the achievements of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). On this day, people throughout the world blog about girls and women involved in technical activities. In 2015, October 13 is Ada Lovelace Day. Not coincidentally, this is also the release date of Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine.
Join Laurie as she travels from blog to blog to introduce her debut picture book, Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine. All stops are listed at: http://lauriewallmark.com/blogtour.php.
Laurie writes exclusively for children of all ages and has a lifetime love of, and involvement in, math and science as well. Learn more about Laurie at her
Website – http://www.lauriewallmark.com,
on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/lauriewallmarkauthor
on Twitter – https://twitter.com/lauriewallmark
Better yet, come meet Laurie in person at her book launch on Sunday, Oct. 25th from 1 to 4 p.m. at The Book Garden in Frenchtown, NJ!