Today is Ada Lovelace Day and this has become a firm fixture in our calendar at the University of Edinburgh. It is one of our flagship Wikipedia editathon events, and this year we partnered with the School of Chemistry and took the event on the road to our Kings Buildings campus. You can see the full schedule here, and there’s even some OER there if that’s your cup of tea. We ate our body-weight in periodic table cupcakes. I personally ate polonium and arsenic and have lived to tell the tale.
As the closing event to the day we had a viewing of the excellent short film “A Chemical Imbalance” commissioned by Professor Polly Arnold, Crum Brown Chair of Chemistry. I had the distinct pleasure of chairing a panel discussion with Professor Arnold, Professor Jane Norman, and Dr Carole Morrison after the film and we discussed the ways in which we can recruit more women into STEM careers, and nuture and retain women already working in the field.
Earlier in the afternoon I had started gathering up some info on Katherine Isabella Williams, one of the 19 signatories to the 1904 petition to join the Chemical Society. This is a story that our colleague Dr Michael Seery brought to our attention through an epic Twitter rant earier in the year (What do you do with a dead chemist?) and since then he’s written a fine Wikipedia article on the subject. We spent much of the editathon today fleshing out biographies of each of the 19 signatories.
Someone else was also working on the same biography as me, so I spent a little time fitting my notes in around the existing page this evening. After that I happened to look at my notifications in Wikipedia, and spotted the following comment on my user page, from around a month ago:
Hello, this isn’t a very Wikipedian comment but I just wanted to thank you personally for creating an entry for my mother Ann Katharine Mitchell. She is in residential care with Alzheimers, serene and contented, and largely lives in the past. She was told recently that she had a Wikipedia entry and was flattered and delighted to see it (I’ve now made some revisions). It isn’t the purpose of your editing to give the subjects pleasure, of course, but thanks for doing so!
I created the page for Ann Katharine Mitchell on 11 October 2016. Ada Lovelace Day last year. Sometimes working with Wikipedia can be one of the nicest things one gets to do.