The News Labs celebrates Ada Lovelace Day


We are extremely pleased to announce that we joined the Ada Lovelace day effort this year! If you missed it on Twitter, here is the link to our Ada Lovelace Day prototype.

Our experiment-app shows a random woman in science (from a pre-selected list taken from Wikipedia), along with some articles that she might have been interested in, based on what she did and where she was from, and uses the semantic news and Juicer API.

This prototype was developed by our own Iain Collins, based on a proposal from Paul Rissen, Data Architect at BBC News.

“I’ve had lots of really lovely feedback and RT’s from all sorts of places (schools, colleges and a wide range of people), including Suw Charman-Anderson, who set up Ada Lovelace Day, who has been in touch, as she would like to have something similar on her website.”

It’s a good example of actually between us we might be able to come up with some really interesting demos in a day or two, especially if we planned ahead!

Behind the scenes, by Iain:

The scientists come from a fairly small curated list (maybe 50 from an original list on Wikipedia of over 400).

I tried using the “Similar To” on the short text but would need to strip out unknown proper nouns before doing that, as it came up with matches on names (which are often repeated multiple times in text, e.g. for family members and spouses) and yielded articles involving people with the same name (e.g. murder cases) but which were not otherwise relevant.

As most of the people on the list are dead the Concept finder wasn’t hugely useful on it’s own either (although Concept Co-Occurences on interesting tags is something I’d like to explore if I had more time).

It’s currently using the short text description (e.g. “Canadian Astronomer”, “Mathematician and Chemist”, etc) to search by keyword in Elastic Search. It falls back to the longer bio for text as required. This is very simple but also very specific and yields okay results (sometimes seeing no matches, which is odd but nothing awful or potentially embarrasing!).

There were issues with the API, and we didn’t have box to run it on (so had to set that up) so is bit simpler than I’d wanted (would have been nice to pull in relevant TV shows and documentaries too ideally) but all useful progress for future hacks / experiments :)

About Ada Lovelace Day:

“Ada Lovelace Day aims to address this problem by encouraging people to shine a light on the women in STEM that they admire. By talking about women in these fields, we hope to raise not just their profiles, but the profile of every woman. We hope that, through taking part in Ada Lovelace Day and through reading the profiles others have published, everyone will learn about the amazing achievements of our unsung heroines. Many of our most successful women have never been given the credit they deserve, overshadowed by the men that they worked with for no better reason than that it was just “how things were”. And many of the women working in STEM today go unnoticed and unremarked, despite the fact that there is no good reason to ignore their contributions.”

“As a result of the activity around Ada Lovelace Day, we also hope to make it easier for conference organisers to find women to talk at their events, and for journalists to find women to comment on STEM stories, or to even bethe story. We hope that women struggling to understand why their achievements are being downplayed by peers and bosses will take heart from the stories they see, and will fight even harder for the equality they deserve. We hope that mothers and fathers and teachers wil find inspiration to pass on to their children and students, even finding inspriation themselves. And we hope that young girls will see that it’s not just OK to love science, tech, engineering and maths, but that there are real opportunities for them, at school, at university, and at work.”

“Women have a great future ahead of them in STEM. By taking part in Ada Lovelace Day and telling others about the amazing work done by women, we can all help ensure that future is as bright as it should be.”

Extracts from Ada Lovelace Day’s website “Our mission” section