BookMachine: Talking Tech

Anna Slevin our Temps Administrator attended the BookMachine “Talking Tech” event a few weeks ago and after Ada Lovelace Day recently celebrating the first computer programmer* we thought we’d let you know about the “manifesto” they discussed. We need Tech skills in publishing today!

As discussed by an all-female panel: led by the chair Emma Barnes (Founder & CEO, Bibliocloud and MD, Snowbooks), Sara O’Connor (Full Stack Developer, Bibliocloud), Lola Odelola (Software Engineer and Founder of blackgirl.tech) and Janneke Niessen (Entrepreneur, Investor, Boardmember, Inspiring Fifty, Project Prep). Anna, our Administrator tells us more.

Anna

All of the speakers were genuinely passionate and clearly knew what they were talking about but none of them were afraid to admit that when they don’t know the answer they turn to Google or the community. (It turns out that the tech community are often very helpful and generally prioritise make something work and finding the answer, most things are open source.)

A lot of the information is free and readily available on websites like Learn Enough it’s just a case of working through it and understanding what you’ve read. Which is the part most of us struggle with! You may have heard of things like C++ or Python and thought it sounds like a foreign language and it turns out it is!

Ruby

Which brings me to Ruby. Like Dorothy’s ruby shoes** prove there’s no place like home and Ruby is fun mainly because it is an object based language you can use to code. It feels more familiar (and homely) like a typical word-based language and once you start to see the output you’re already a programmer!

If you are a woman interested in trying for yourself with a bit of help, they publicised the next free Rails Girls London event: https://railsgirls.london/#events – you might even see some of us from Atwood Tate there! (Applications close in one month.)

Sara, Lola, Janneke and Emma

The panel (and chair) all talked about their own experiences in tech and why it’s important to publishing and society in general.

The key concerns raised time and again were:

Empathy. Accessibility. Diversity.

A lack of women in tech roles was partially why they were speaking at all but Lola raised issues around a lack of diversity across tech teams. Much like architects sometimes forget to consider spaces for wheelchairs or prams, the tech industry similarly sometimes can’t anticipate an issue until a product is rolled out to the public such as Lola’s observation about the photo tagging incident with an app a few years ago.

Resources/Opportunities mentioned:

Anyone can code.

Even a man with little or no sight hired by Janneke.

Even Sara who as originally in Editorial and is now a Full Stack Developer (which I asked her about and means she does the part people see and the back end stuff that makes it function).

Even that SUM formula on Excel pretty much counts as programming. Programming in publishing could save you a lot of time on those repetitive tasks… Give it a try!

 

*incidentally the daughter of Lord Byron (it’s all connected to publishing!)

**disclaimer: working in publishing, we know the shoes are silver in the books!

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