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My name is Coraline Ehmke, a transgender feminist with over 20 years of developing apps for the web. I founded LGBTech, CultureOffset.org and contributor-covenant.org. Ask Me Anything!
I found it very interesting in your presentation and would like to read more about. Any sugest? (Sorry about the english... I am from Brazil and still learning)
With so many programming languages available these days (decades of research) I always tend to lose hope when acquiring a new skill set. Do you maintain your focus on one particular thing or are you really good at multi-tasking?
I keep it pretty simple. I use a Mac Book as my development machine, and for editors I go back and forth between Sublime and BBEdit. With my setup I have a big second monitor so I can keep code on one screen and a terminal on the other. My primary programming language is Ruby.
There are a lot of new and exciting things going on in this realm, what are you most interested in with artificial intelligence?
I started out doing AI in the 90s, working mainly on text-based MUSH systems. I built an expert system that knew all about Egyptian gods and goddesses. My interest in AI was sparked again when I started working on a project called Alice, which is an autonomous IRC bot. But my work now is on Sophie, with the goal of combining grammatical analysis with contextual meaning, so that she can read something, parse its structure, and derive meaning. She just read her first sentence off of Wikipedia in January: "A raven is a large bird with black feathers." She instantly made all these connections about ravens, and it was really amazing to see. My eventual goal is to have her be able to understand, and even create, metaphors. So to me it's less about the algorithms and more about modeling human consciousness. That's the draw.
I'm very excited about Contributor Covenant, which is a code of conduct for open source projects. We're seeing adoption by some pretty big-name projects, including Angular.js, Bundler, and Gitlabs. I'm currently working on version 1.2 and I hope to roll that out within the next month. I think it's really important that as a community we step back and look at what our values are, be explicit about them, and make sure that our actions align with what we hold to be true. A code of conduct can help with that process. It also helps define acceptable behavior for other people who are new to the community, and can signal that people who are traditionally underrepresented in open source are welcome to participate.
Be curious! Take an interest in things around you and always ask how they work. Take them apart and put them back together. That's the way I learn everything, and I don't think that code is any different. With sites like Github and Gitlab, we have an almost infinite library of code to read and learn from, and you can download it and change it and play with it safely. There are also tons of online resources, in addition to code schools and meetups. Find a buddy, pair up, and take something apart!
I work for a company called Instructure. We make a learning management system called Canvas, for schools, universities, and corporate markets. It's a pretty big app and it has a lot of stuff going on. I just got assigned to a new refactoring team, so I'm looking forward to starting on that project. On the side, I'm working on a new project aimed at bringing more women into open source. You'll be able to browse and rate projects and find people to pair up with to tackle contributing together. I'm pretty excited about it.
Personally I'm the kind of person who learns by doing. So when it's time to pick up a new tool or technology, I usually start by deciding on a project that I want to complete and try it out on. Then I learn what I need to make the project come to life. I'm also a big fan of reading other people's code. There are a lot of smart people in our field and it's interesting to see what different design patterns, code techniques, and just programming styles other people have.
I have the typical background of having started coding at a really young age (7 in my case). I was very lucky and privileged to have a computer at home back then. I taught myself to program games and graphics mainly. I had a great teacher in high school who made a custom curriculum for me, and I was on track to start my career. When I got to college I decided of course to major in Computer Science. But the very first class I took really put doubt in me. I remember our semester-long project was to write software for an ATM. I was so bored and not challenged, I decided that if that's what life as an engineer was like, I didn't want any part of it. So I dropped out soon after. But I have a hacker spirit, so I kept working on things that were important and interesting to me. By 1993 I was online and building web sites, and learning C and Perl. When the world discovered the Internet around 1995, I suddenly had marketable skills. So I guess I kind of fell into it as a profession.
I had a very difficult time in 2013 when I decided to come out as transgender. I was scared-- of losing my family, my job, everything I had worked for. So I went to my friend Aaron Kalin and asked for advice. He was struck by how common the fear I was expressing really was for people on the LGBTQ spectrum. He was worried about how many people felt alone and rudderless. So we decided to do something to provide a sort of mental safety net for people going through similar situations. That's how LGBTech was started. We announced it at Madison Ruby in 2013, with founding members including myself and Aaron, JC Grubbs, Nell Shamrell, and Ashe Dryden. We organize local meetups to get people together and talking and sharing, to provide some community for people who might otherwise feel alone.
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Hi, I'm Coraline. I'm a speaker, author, teacher, open source advocate and technologist with 20 years of experience in developing apps for the web. As a founding member of LGBTech, CultureOffset.org and and contributor-covenant.org, I work diligently to promote diversity and inclusivity in the tech industry. My current interests include refactoring, code analytics and artificial intelligence.