Google Feb 2011 - My life as a geek


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My life as a geek: a talk given at Google London HQ in Febuary 2011 about my life as a geek and how that led me to campaign to save Bletchley Park.

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  • Intro to who I am @Dr_Black etc I ’ ve spent my life as a geek, it wasn ’ t trendy in the 60s….but it ’ s getting there now  Being a geek led me to Bletchley Park and to me starting a campaign which has taken over my life for the last three years.
  • Young Geek: I spent my pocket money on maths text books 
  • Left school at 16, married at 20, here I am at 23 with three children :-o
  • Did a maths access type course at college at 26, then Uni - at 31 graduated BSc(hons) Computer Science - here with my dad, sister and brother.
  • After degree did PhD in software engineering, became lecturer, senior lecturer, reader then Head of a CS department. Here with my four children at my son Sam ’ s graduation from Durham 2008. I brought my children up as a single parent for almost 20 years.
  • Because of isolation for some women in computing I set up BCSWomen:
  • Went to Bletchley Park and discovered that more than 5000 women worked there! Raised funds for the Women of Station X project.
  • Went to Bletchley Park again July 2008, did a full tour of the 26 acres, got upset at the state of the huts in which major codebreaking achievements happened. The work carried out at Bletchley Park shortened WW2 by two years potentially saving 22 million lives! But according to the Director Simon Greenish (June 2008) it may have to close due to lack of funds 
  • Decided to do something about it. Contacted all Heads and Profs of CS in the UK, asked them to sign a petition to save Bletchley Park on the No. 10 website. Also asked to sign a letter to the Times asking to save Bletchley Park. More details on my blog: Interviewed for Radio 4 Today and BBC News and live on News 24.
  • Some funding came in from English Heritage 
  • I went to a talk by Captain Jerry Roberts, codebreaker at Bletchley Park. Fabulous man.
  • I realised the potential of Twitter for raising awareness and forming a community around Bletchley Park, so took social media gurus @Documentally @Sizemore and @Jemimah_Knight up to Bletchley Park to help me persuade them that using social media was a good idea.
  • Contacted Stephen Fry through Twitter, he tweeted about my blog and I got 8000 hits instead of the usual 50  Stephen came up to Bletchley Park for the day for lunch and a tour 
  • I lobbied Phil Willis MP to help in the campaign to save Bletchley Park. He suggested setting up an EDM.
  • I went to the annual veterans reunion in September 2009. Still more than 1000 veterans around…fabulous people, an absolute joy to talk to and some great stories told.
  • Gordon Brown apologised for the treatment of Alan Turing, Bletchley Park asked me to go on Breakfast Time to talk about it.
  • More funding comes in for Bletchley Park, this time the Heritage Lottery Fund
  • Jason Gorman, a friend, organises an amazing standup comedy night in aid of Bletchley Park 
  • Wrote a paper with Kelsey Griffin and Jonathan Bowen ‘ Can Twitter save Bletchley Park? ’ Wanted International museum community to be aware of Bletchley Park and for Bletchley to become part of that community.
  • When paper was accepted for the conference realised that we had no travel funds! Twitter friends suggested setting up a justgiving page…we received £2.5 in two weeks! I love Twitter and the fabulous people who have helped Bletchley Park.
  • Thses are many of the people who funded our trip via justgiving
  • The Turing papers came on sale in November 2010. I blogged about it Many thanks to Google for giving a fabulous $100k towards the purchase 
  • Patrick Sammon a US film director is making a documentary about Turing, I can ’ t wait to see it!
  • Current situation: I ’ m no longer worried about Bletchley Park closing, but it still needs your help.
  • Google Feb 2011 - My life as a geek

    1. 1.   My life as a geek Dr Sue Black Senior Research Associate Software Systems Engineering University College London
    2. 9. Neglect of Bletchley condemned
    3. 14. Early Day Motion EDM 1935   FUNDING FOR BLETCHLEY PARK 20.07.2009 Willis, Phil That this House recognises the signficance of Bletchley Park, historic site of secret British code-breaking activities during the Second World War and birthplace of the modern computer; acknowledges that the use of the intelligence gained at Bletchley Park and subsequent related actions of the Allies is said to have shortened the Second World War by two years, saving countless lives; and calls on the Government to provide operational funding whilst the museum is developed for long-term sustainability, securing the site for future generations to visit, appreciate and understand. Closed with 82 signatures
    4. 17. Bletchley Park's codebreakers get glimpse of lottery funding The wartime site near Milton Keynes will receive £500,000 to help seek a £4.1m grant - but campaigners say more is needed Charles Arthur and agencies , Tuesday 29 September 2009 12.28 BST Supporters of Bletchley Park, home to crucial code-breaking work during the Second World War and birthplace of the computer, expressed delight today after outline proposals to overhaul the site were given approval by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Bletchley Park Trust has been awarded development funding to help prepare an application for a £4.1 million grant towards a £10 million restoration project including repairing key buildings, improving visitor facilities and expanding educational programmes. However Sue Black, a campaigner who has sought to gain heritage status – and funding – for the site, said that the award was "the end of the beginning for Save Bletchley Park, not the beginning of the end". On the social networking site Twitter, she pointed out that the site "needs £10 million plus £250k per annum operational funding for five years. HLF [Heritage Lottery Fund] funding gives £500k plus hopefully £4m to come..."
    5. 25. What *you* can do........ Please visit Bletchley Park (only £10 for an annual pass) Talk about Bletchley Park: there are so many amazing stories that have not been told Have a look at the Bletchley Park website: Read about my campaign: Watch the BCS ‘ Women of Station X ’ video Follow @bletchleypark and @Dr_Black on Twitter, search term #bpark Put me in touch with your wealthy connections who might be interested in sponsorship 
    6. 26. Thanks for listening, any questions? @Dr_Black [email_address]