Ada Initiative is a nonprofit organization which supports women in open technology and culture. Ada Camp is a major event organized by Ada Initiative. It is a series of conferences (Actually in unconference format, more on that later) aiming to increase the women participation in open technology and culture. In 2014 there were 3 Ada Camps in 3 continents. The participation to Ada Camp is by invitation only. You can apply through the Ada Camp web site if you are interested and they will let you know if you are selected to attend. I was very lucky I got the chance to participate as an attendee in the Ada Camp, Banglore which was held in 22nd and 23rd of November, 2014. I also got a travel scholarship from Ada Initiative which made me possible to come to India and participate Ada Camp.
Rather than going in detail about the conference I will first introduce my self and what are my contributions in open technology and culture. Since being a final year undergraduate studying in Computer Science and Engineering in Sri Lanka, I am very much familiar with open source software. But my expertise does not end there. I am a Wikimedian and Wikipedia article writer in Sinhala. I translate Wikimedia contents and Wikipedia articles. I also contribute to the new Wikimedia project Wikidata which is aiming at structuring Wikipedia.
Ada Camp was held at Red hat office which is located in 11th floor in IBC Knowledge Park. The place was very nice and have a really nice view of Banglore.
The considerations taken by the organizers to make the ada camp experience a comfortable and a pleasant one to all the attendees should be highly appreciated. From the registration table we get a tag with a coloured lanyard to write our names and have it with us, so we all can communicate with each other easily. The lanyard logic made every one’s life easier representing the preference to be photographed. It goes as follows:
Red : Do not take photograpghs, do not even ask.
Yellow: Should ask and get the consent before photographing
Green : no restrictions in photograpghing
They have even given consideration in to small things such as reminding to bring a sweater if the AC is too cool. Alex and Suki did a great job in hosting the event.
Ada camp actually started with the Friday night reception which was held on 21st November. It was a networking event where the attendees get the chance to get to know each other over the dinner and snacks.
Ada Camp started off with an impostor syndrome workshop. Impostor syndrome is the feeling that you aren’t actually qualified for the work you are doing. It is a very common feeling among women in tech. Even I have that feeling to a certain extent. The most interesting thing happened during the workshop was giving and receiving compliments. It was actually a surprise to figure out that we can compliment others very easily, but are uncomfortable in receiving compliments.
Ada camp is an unconference. An unconference is a participant driven meeting. After the impostor syndrome workshop the unconference procedure started. The first day was dedicated to discussion sessions as the second day was more focused on workshops and hands on lessons. These sessions and workshops covered a wide area. These are not pre-scheduled. In the morning anyone can propose and pitch the sessions and others can vote. So according to the votes the agenda is created. There are parallel sessions which are run across a couple of rooms and attendees can choose what they want and attend to that. If you feel like you want to go to another session while you are in a different one, you can stand up and leave the session without any hard feelings.
Two of the most interesting workshop sessions I attended was the Mozilla crafting community and Arduino and Raspberry Pi workshop. In the crafting community workshop we made thank you cards for our hosts.
One more thing which was new to me was lightning talks. They were 90 seconds talks that you can talk about anything. You can submit your talk proposal before for the ease of organizing. The lightning talk session was after lunch each day.
Ada camp was the best experience in my life where I was able to share my knowledge and learn from others. Everybody participated was willing to learn and willing to share. I was highly motivated to do my best to increase the number of women and their participation in technology. I was amazed how people have initiated things to achieve this aim and successfully expanding their projects.
I can conclude that Ada Camp, Banglore was a big success and I wish Ada Initiative all the best to keep up the good work. If you want to support Ada Initiative and their future work you can support it by donating.