She doesn't know I'm going to post this, but I figured that I would just do it, and ask forgiveness later.
What impresses me the most about Leah is her creative thinking about the issues of women in technology - recontextualizing issues of breadth and acceptance to apply to any minority groups. I learned about Leah because of her work to create Lilypad Arduino, a microcontroller designed for wearable DIY projects and textiles. She's put together a sweet tutorial on using Lilypad, and continues to do research related to creative expression through materials not traditionally considered for computing.
She's part of the high-low tech group at MIT, a group dedicated to integrating high and low technological materials, processes, and cultures.
A super interesting project she's working on right now is Living Wall - wallpaper designed out of paper and conductive paint that response to it's environment. The result is beautiful, functional and a geek's paradise for making an interactive home.
Some of her research targets the issue of creating new communities by tweaking how the technology is used, focusing and targeting use of technology in a novel way. She did this with lilypad arduino by introducing people who aren't traditionally microcontroller hackers (sewers, knitters, crafters) to a platform designed for their specific uses. Her ideas and success certainly inspire my free and open source software advocacy.
I was completely inspired in the very small amount of time I spent with her chatting about tech communities and the problems we're trying to solve around diversity. I loved her directness and curiosity. I'm looking forward to seeing what beautiful and super geeky projects she'll be working on next.
Have some feedback? Corrections? Ideas for other posts? Contact me @selenamarie.