Code is poetical science

“You will not concede me philosophical poetry. Invert the order! Will you give me poetical philosophy, poetical science?”

Ada Lovelace in a letter to her mother

You can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve ever given a talk, and it’s not very often we have women-focused tech events. So besides the ones we do at the Philippine Web Designers Organization, the first Women Who WordPress Manila, made possible with Women Who Code Manila and WordPress User Group Philippines, is quite notable in my book.

People throw the word “empowering” in conversations about representation, diversity, and gender equality, but when you actually read or hear someone say that’s how they feel after experiencing such efforts, you start to feel that, wow, maybe this is actually making an impact. That when you see so many women at a tech event that the room can’t even hold everyone, you realize more things are possible. (See also: the Wonder Woman effect)

For my workshop track of creating a WordPress theme from scratch I thought I’d highlight the pivotal role women have had in computing history, so I made one for an imaginary blog of Ada Lovelace.

Theme design for Women Who WordPress Manila workshop
Theme design for Women Who WordPress Manila workshop

I just loved the idea of mixing flowers and gears together—there’s some allegory in there about feminine and masculine stereotypes—which was probably unconsciously inspired by the beautiful art and story of the S-Town podcast. If I had more time I’d make it a little more steampunk-y. The color scheme was totally generated from this portrait, which is just so fancy and vibrant.

If you’re not aware who Augusta Byron-King is, she’s considered one of the first computer programmers in the world. She worked with Charles Babbage (who invented the Analytical Engine, the first design for the general-purpose computer), was acquaintances with Dickens & Faraday, is daughter of Lord Byron, and became countess of Lovelace.

Watercolor portrait of Ada Lovelace by Alfred Edward Chalon

The combination of her parents’ influences exposed her to both artistic and mathematical pursuits, shaping her thinking and approach to her work, which she called “poetical science”.

WordPress just so happens to have the motto, “Code is poetry”, so I thought it was the perfect collision of these two worlds.

As to whether I’ll release the design as a WordPress theme, I just might ;) But I gotta find some time to make it usable enough. WP themes these days are full of bells and whistles—this isn’t going to be that.

If you’d like join or support groups that encourage women in Philippine tech, here’s a modest but growing list!

It just so happens that infamous Google manifesto came out on the same weekend this was happening, so I thought I’d share this great counter highlighting the history of women in computing. Then a week later, #WITBragDay is an uplifting strike back.

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Design × Code × Words for a better Web,
made in the Philippines by Sophia Lucero.