Lady Ada Lovelace Day 2010 - Finding Sylvia

TechNinja's picture

Nearly a full 9 years ago, my darling sprout Sylvia embarked on a journey to find herself. 8 years and 7 months later, she's still looking, but just between you and me, I think she's got a good start. If not, at least I think she's pointed in the right direction.

I've always been a maker at heart. Even if I've always been lacking for tools, parts and time, I've never been want for ideas. When I had my first daughter, back in 2001, all I could think of, is what I can give to her. Her youth, I gauged, is an incredibly precious thing; rushing past me ever increasingly as I become more of a fuddy duddy adult, and she learns of the beauties, wonders and tragedies the world has to offer. From that day forward, I knew I would devote my life to ensuring she learned early on, the incredible gift it was to give, and to make things. Not just to buy, use and consume with no second thought.

Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman - Kick ass makers, passable TV show hosts. Awesome people to the core.
When Mythbusters came on the air in 2003, it was a huge spark to suddenly remind me what making was all about. Two guys who have the tools, money and know-how to use RF controls to move servos to do their dirty work, and they use... ropes? weights? LARD?! For my life I’d been thinking entirely wrong about needing complexity to gain full ability or knowledge to do something. Do something simple, and as long as it works, you’re more than half the way there, it’ll be cheaper to do, and it will probably fail a whole lot less than a more complicated solution. Sylvia and I were in love. The explosions are nice, but we stay for the machines.

Sylvia (blond hair, left foreground) watches Robo Giraffe do it's thing at Maker Faire 2006
In 2006, 5 year old Sylvia joined her family and her 1 year old sister for the very first Maker Faire in San Mateo. It was love at first sight… of a giant robotic giraffe that “danced” to techno music. Every single exhibit, she wanted to stay for hours and just watch. Babbage’s difference engine clinking away in front of her, ominous semi-autonomous blimps, sprawling Lego cities and behind every one of them, an inquisitive mind, ready to talk, to answer questions, wholly open to share.

Sylvia flies to the moon at Maker Faire 2009 (Yes, it's really that cool)
About 1 year ago, I trekked across San Mateo’s Maker Faire 2009 with her in tow, to find, meet, and photograph the influential makers whom she's adored through video and blog on the web, and just about any really amazing person we could find that would stand for a photo and sign her book. The results we got were amazing, getting almost everyone she'd seen or heard about, and quite a few more new and amazing faces. She posted a personal thank you to her favorites (all available here), and has had a personal response from all, with the exception of Adam Savage and Bre Pettis (too famous, obviously).

Sylvia turns 9 this year, and hopefully will make it along with her mom, myself and our new addition to Maker Faire 2010. I’ll have my camera along try and get some of the incredible makers I missed on our last trip, and maybe we’ll see some familiar faces along the way.

Sylvia, and LadyAda herself at Maker Faire 2009
One note in particular Sylvia is very proud to mention, is meeting the “amazing” Limor Fried at Maker Faire 2009 (Known well to the community as LadyAda, Founder and engineer extraordinaire for Adafruit Industries). Not a month previous, I quickly snatched up a waveshield and motorshield to begin to help prototype Sylvia’s speculative bots. Sylvia’s steady hand soldered more than half of the joints of one, and 90% of the other. Immediately we began to play and create, and the idea that she could one day do the same on her own, maybe live up to her very own LadyAda, I think gives her a solid grounding, from a stellar role model.

Thank you, LadyAda.

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, via wikipedia.

To all past, present and future Lady Adas: Never stop creating, making or giving back to the community. Your positive input to all will ripple through to every generation to come, as long as her story is told.



Way to go Maker Sylvia!