Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ada Lovelace Day 2010

I find it incredibly challenging to identify a single individual to write about on Ada Lovelace Day. I have a number of colleagues that I admire more than I can say, and what I really want to do is give a shout out to everyone I can think of (being sure that I am forgetting many women to whom I apologize profusely):

Grace Agnew, Rachel Allen, Ivy Anderson, Martha Anderson, Caroline Arms, Murtha Baca, Carol Bartels, Maria Bernier, Liz Bishoff, Suzanne Bonefas, Sandy Bostian, Cristine Bostick, Kristine Brancolini, Lois Brooks, Colleen Cahill, Laura Campbell, Lisa Chan, Robin Chandler, Patricia Cruse, Robin Dale, Ann Della Porta, Christina Deane, Robin Dowden, Laine Farley, Eleanor Fink, Daisy Flemming, Rachel Frick, Michelle Gallinger, Wendy Gogel, Cathryn Goodwin, Trisha Gordon, Emily Gore, Beth Gould, Laura Graham, Ronda Grizzle, Abbie Grotke, Kat Hagedorn, Susan Hazan, Geneva Henry, Nancy Hoebelheinrich, Gina Jones, Katherine Jones, Anne Kenney, Stacey Kowalczyk, Elisa Lanzi, Cindy Maisannes, Martha Mahard, Maura Marx, Amalyah Keshet, Michelle Kimpton, Katherine Kott, Liz Madden, Jane Mandelbaum, Cathy Marshall, Kathleen McDonnell, Bethany Mendenhall, Marla Misunas, Bethany Nowviskie, Susan Patterson, Sandy Payette, Toni Peterson, Cecilia Preston, Abbey Potter, Merrilee Proffitt, Suzanne Quigley, Michelle Rago, Vicky Reich, Oya Rieger, Jenn Riley, Chris Ruotolo, Bess Sadler, Dorothea Salo, Beth Sandore, Lenore Sarasan, Jodi Schneider, Candy Schwartz, Sarah Shreeves, Katherine Skinner, MacKenzie Smith, Erin Stalberg, Deb Thomas, Jennifer Trant, Jennifer Vinopal, Jewel Ward, Susanne Warren, Amanda Watson, Robin Wendler, Olivia Williamson, Debra Weiss, Holly Witchey, Ann Whiteside, and Diane Zorich.

I want them all to know that they have influenced and inspired me again and again over the years and today.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I think a lot about obsolescence in my work: hardware, software, and file formats. I encounter a lot of obsolescence in my personal life as well: I own a Saturn (I am currently looking for a place to get it repaired since the Saturn and GM dealerships near me both closed -- I haven't needed to drive it since it developed a coolant leak late last year, but I need it again soon); I can't seem to find the dish washing liquid I prefer except at one store; and the body wash I used for years was discontinued, as was the product I choose to replace it soon after. My liking a TV show seems to be the kiss of death, an assurance that it will soon be canceled.

It's the anniversary of my mother's death today, and for some reason I've been experiencing a strange sense memory of a beauty product my mother used, a cosmetics counter lotion that I could not for the life of me remember the name of, but I remembered the black art deco packaging and its scent vividly (and that I used to sometimes buy it for her at Hart's department store in San Jose, California, also defunct). Last night I found some web sites with images of vintage cosmetics ads and, after some extensive browsing, found an ad that jogged my memory (thanks, Found in Mom's Basement). It was a Charles of the Ritz product called Revenescence. Not surprisingly, the product and brand no longer exists.

Circling back to obsolescence, this product was apparently beloved by generations of women who continue to seek it out. I found a 6oz bottle on eBay priced, optimistically one hopes, at $395, and smaller bottles for $150. There are warnings about pirate versions! And someone has attempted to recreate it, emulate it if you will, with some success. In other words someone so valued this that a market re-emerged, and it became worth someone's while to bring back a product that was made obsolete.

How often does that happen with software? I have seen innumerable games and applications brought back through emulation, and translation and transformation tools created for file formats. But how often is a market recreated, and market value reestablished at a higher rate? Should it ever happen, as an incentive to keep a application or format alive?