First, the context. It's Ada Lovelace Day Day in honor of the world's first known programmer, Augusta Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace, and, yes, daughter of Lord Byron, yes, that Byron, the Romantic poet.
Though she lived only 36 years and those were in the 19th century (nearly the same years in fact as Margaret Fuller lived about whom much has been written here), Ada Lovelace did something no one else had ever done: she proposed "a method for calculating Bernoulli numbers with the Engine," the "engine" being Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine. Thus was born the world's first computer program, long before there actually was a computer and a full century before "software" was even much of a concept.
Incredibly, Ada Lovelace's groundbreaking work was nothing more than a set of notes that she appended to the translation of an Italian mathematician's memoir. But what notes they were, a sequence of instructions for making calculations with Babbage's device. And she went on to postulate that the engine, once programmed, as it were, “might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.”
If you're interested, you can find a ton of material about Ms. Lovelace around the web and at the site set up for today's celebration of her impact: bloggers around the world are participating in a "let's celebrate women in technology" day, each of us raising up someone whom we admire.
So with that background, I'm honoring the great, once, and future networker, Lisa Kimball. I met Lisa in the early '80s, when computer conferencing was just taking off. She was then joining Frank Burns in launching The Meta Network, an online discussion forum that has lasted ever since.
Thousands -- I'm not exaggerating -- thousands of conversations have been launched because of Lisa, who has the gift of online facilitation so needed today when digital "conversations" can be so reckless. She knows countless people in diverse fields. She's brilliant. She's funny. And she has the largest collections of Mexican folk art in any single residence (OK, I'm probably exaggerating because hers is the only one I'm familiar with but, trust me, it's immense.)
Professional-wise, her bio includes this: "executive producer and owner of Group Jazz, an organization devoted to supporting the efforts of teams, task forces, communities and organizations. She earned her doctorate in educational psychology, cognition and learning and is active in online community work, organizational development and is skilled in using complexity-inspired principles. She is also a Plexus Trustee." The also part is important as Lisa's been quite involved in Plexus Institute's work with hospitals and health care facilities to apply "Positive Deviance methodology" to "eliminating transmission of hospital acquired 'superbug' infections."
It's fitting. Lisa's always positive, always making connections you wouldn't necessarily think of yourself. She's a cofounder of the long-ago but not-forgotten Electronic Networking Association (I was there at the founding meeting too and get to call myself a co-founder but really Lisa did more work than anyone.)
And why do we have the (*lisa) in the title? Because for many years, that's how she signed her emails.
Keep networking, Lisa. It's more than technology alone that builds the future.
PS: One tiny last thing: I trust Lisa so much that when I couldn't fulfill a speaking engagement in Japan, I turned it over to her - and they loved her.