Mena, My Grandma and the Webernets

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, honoring one of the world’s first computer programmers.

To be absolutely transparent, Ada is someone I hadn’t heard of before I saw mention of the Ada Lovelace Day Pledge, which asks 1,000 people to post blogs on March 24 about women in technology whom they admire.

A few notable women that stand out. Marissa Mayer. My close friend Bean. Julia Roy. These women probably couldn’t be more different, but they’re women of my generation with whom I can relate.

I won’t be writing about them (others already have today, or will).

The women I want to write about and honor today are Mena Trott and my grandmother.

Mena Trott founded a company called Six Apart back in 2001 with her husband. Six Apart is home to Movable Type, a publishing platform, and TypePad, a blogging service now used all over the world by companies as well as individuals.

Mena started blogging several years before it was a mainstream activity and then created a platform to make this form of communication more accessible to everyone. Were it not for her, and counterparts at Blogger, LiveJournal and here on MySpace, I certainly wouldn’t have decided to air my business on the webernets.

I can’t say for sure that the world is better for my blogging. However, since I started my MySpace blog here in March 2006, I can say that you – my readers – have made the endeavor a worthwhile one. You’ve stood by me, engaged me and listened to the ramblings of a stranger.

We’ve talked about my scone experiments, travails with my hair, that time I went crazy and decided to move to New York City and, most fun of all, my barely believable childhood and schizophrenic roommates that enjoy vogueing.

We’ve been through a lot here on this blog. Mena made this experience you and I have shared something that’s replicated in a meaningful and traceable fashion all over the world.

I know this quick introduction to Mena may not be much in the way of tribute, but I wanted her to know her efforts don’t go unnoticed by the regular non-techie people around. She’s just barely a year older than me, and what’s she’s accomplished has inspired me a great deal.

I can’t call this a complete Ada Lovelace Day tribute without also including the woman who had the most influence on how I’ve turned out. That woman is my grandmother who, along with my grandfather, raised me for a number of years.

My grandparents started using email in 2000, and we used it to keep in touch while I was living abroad during grad school in 2001. Since then, they have gotten hip to digital cameras, photo sharing websites and other webernet nonsense. I’ve often gone to bed and woken up to an email my grandma sent at 11 the night before.

My favorite email to date is the last one I got. A little background: Facebook is a client of mine, and most people don’t know I have a Facebook profile because I’m not searchable and only add people I’m close to in real life.

Here’s the email:
From: _____@aol.com
To: Emily
Date: Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 11:56 PM
Subject: G&G

We have been thinking of you and praying for you each nite so you are in our
thoughts and prayers and we love you very much!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh yes, I am on
FACEBOOK now …kids talked me into it! Whe says you cant teach an old dog
new tricks!!! Love you G & G

All the better to keep an eye on her. My grandma’s fondness for keeping on top of ways to keep in touch with her family using technology is, to me, the best example of what’s possible with social media. She makes me proud.

To her, to Mena and to Ada . . . thank you.

* You can find me elsewhere on the webernets at emily.storytlr.com

*NOTE: This blog, and all others timestamped before it, were originally posted on my MySpace blog.

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