|Sept - Dec 2016|
|Global Digital Innovation|
Three years ago Linda Luikas began teaching herself programming. Today, she is acknowledged as one of the pioneers leading a digital transformation that is rapidly spreading from Finland to Africa. And in December, Johannesburg, lawyer Ayesha Dawood, through Digilnfo.com, will host the country’s first Rails Girls workshop.
Linda is a co-founder of RailGirls (using Ruby on Rails), and we managed to persuade Linda via Twitter and email to give us the background of and motivation for the project that is spreading around the world.
“It was an event that was done in 2010 in Finland. It was never intended to go global. But news travels at the speed of light in the world of technology and the requests from other cities began to pour in,” said Linda.
In the midst of her frenzied work schedule she found time to chat about the background of Rails Girls and her dream.
Linda is more than an ordinary dreamer. She is among theose rare people who are also doers. But a doer with this difference: her work will affect the lives of millions of people.
“Technology is the fastest way to change the world,” she said.
She believes that coding is about building great products that affect millions of peoples lives and disrupt whole industries. “Spotify is changing music and Facebook friendships, as well as Amazon books, Google information and so much more. It's all about making change. The programming world has a culture, a community as well as compassion. It is not dull or boring.”
“It's a similar craft as is architecture or industrial design. You create things that people love. Technology is the future, a part of the big revolution of the years to come and my concern is that this change or transformation is driven only by young boys from California in their early twenties, with a very narrow world-view. I want to see more diversity.”
Linda wants to see diverse people being able to use these tools to solve their own problems and change the world. Technology for Linda is a magical, radiant perspective, an altering lens of the world. It can also be a life-altering experience which Rails Girls Johannesburg wants to promote in South Africa.
“Rails Girls work with local developers and just recently included all of the materials and information on how to throw your own event in Rails Girls Guides – as such they are kind of open sourcing the whole concept. These guides provide the tools and a community for women to understand technology, organise their own events, submit new guides or just to learn about Rails.”
Arising from this perpective, Digitalnfo.com – a South African hosted site with with an international perspective – is planning to launch Rails Girls Johannesburg on 6 and 7 December this year. The accompanying article is a call for participants to join the Johannesburg project.
Active in 232 cities – all of which can be found at map.railsgirls.com – the Johannesburg Rails Girls with bring South Africa its first taste of a unique programming experience that may yet enthuse young people to make magic.
The Ruby community is very close knit and usually events are organised by grassroots volunteers. Entirely community-based, Rails Girls draws enthusiastic support from sponsors. (see the accompanying article on Rails Girls Johannesburg’s sponsor).
Most of its success is attributed to the passion and committement of volunteers who give their services free of charge. Coaches and organisers do it for the joy of spreading a new way of digital interaction.
Linda’s involvement in Rails Girls goes far beyond the promotion of the project. As she plodded through a new and fascinating world of programming she began doodling the Ruby character in her notes.
Whenever she ran into a problem like what is garbage collection or how does object-oriented programming work, she would try to imagine how little Ruby would explain it. The imaginative viewpoint of a small girl soon started to pop up everywhere in the technology world and that’s how the book was born.
Linda believes stories are the most formative force of our childhood. “The stories we read growing up affect the way we perceive the world as we grow up. For some reason narratives haven't been used as part of technology education, even though a lot of research suggests that stories are the best way to understand new concepts, especially in childhood but also when adults.”
The book, Hello Ruby, will be out soon and so will Rails Girls Johannesburg.
This is the era of digital pioneers.