Hatch Show Print is Nashville’s famous letterpress print shop and one of my favorite places to visit when I’m in town. Founded in 1879, it is one of the oldest running letterpress shops in the country. They recently moved and they are now located in what seems like a larger space right next to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Here are a few photo of the shop!
You can view more photos from the Nashville area on my Flickr page.
Inspired by Crystal Beasley’s post, My Nerd Story. I wanted to share my ‘nerd’ story, or how I got started in creating online.
Unlike the iPad wielding toddlers of today, my family and I didn’t have a computer in the home until I was a tween. However, my first experience using a computer was during our weekly computer class in elementary school. There were two women who ran the computer labs who were very strict. We used macs preloaded with reading and math games and we were not allowed to use anything on the computers outside of these games. Because of the strictness and the strong smell of Jheri Curl, I was not a fan of computer class. However, these classes introduced me to computers and I did enjoy using computers when I happened upon them at a friend’s house or at a library.
Later, I somehow managed to convince my parents, who proudly called themselves ‘computer illiterate’, to purchase a home computer. This took a full year of convincing as my parents were not tech savvy and didn’t fully understand what they would be purchasing (after thinking about how much computers used to cost back then, I don’t blame them). After more than a few weeks of having this giant desktop, we finally figured out how to get it set and and connected to the internet. My brother and I also taught our parents the basics of computer use such as scrolling, clicking on links, etc.
Once I was connected to the internet, my favorite pastime became researching topics that interested me. I began to notice than many websites I found for musicians had disclaimers that stated that their sites were created by fans. Around that time I had also been visiting gurlpages.com— a community geared towards teenage girls that offered HTML & CSS tutorials as well as free web space. I quickly created a site for one of my favorite groups, Dru Hill!
Somehow the site blew up and I received tons of hits and ended up being #1 on the search engine, Excite. The site featured the latest Dru Hill ‘news’, ran contests, photos from the latest print magazines and various quizzes and, oh yeah, there was even a guestbook, remember those? HTML & CSS was pretty basic back then but I learned a ton about coding and design just from running that site. Best thing was that no one knew a 13 year old girl was running it and I found out quickly why those other sites had disclaimers on them (I constantly got slightly creepy fanmail).
After conquering the fanpage realm (ha), I created a few personal pages that displayed my photographs, art and writing. Those pages could’ve been described as blogs but this was in a time before ‘web log’ was even a term. Back in those days there were many teenage girls who had created whole communities and businesses all on their own. They had their own forums, linked to each other and supported each other. It was a very social community even before ‘social media’ and the creativity and innovation that went into these sites would put established companies to shame.
Fast forward to now, the internet has changed in more ways than I could imagine. Not only has the technology changed but the vibe has changed. There were far less people who were building and utilizing technology back then. Even though this marked me as a ‘nerd’ back then, I’m proud of where I came from and I wouldn’t change my history for anything. It hurts when others deny the existence of women in technology. Growing up, I had no idea that ‘only boys build websites’, I was surrounded by so many talented girls online. And like Crystal points out, you don’t need to start at 13 years old to be involved in building websites, you can start at 42.
I recently had the chance to attend AdaCamp in San Francisco. It was a great experience and I was able to meet so many positive and inspiring people involved in the tech community. It was also my first time attending an unconference. After attending so many conferences where speakers are scheduled and topics are announced ahead of time, attending an unconference like Adacamp was a breath of fresh air. Instead of having a preselected group of conference speakers, AdaCamp made it possible for anyone to host a workshop and share knowledge. Everyone was also encouraged to share their experiences and thoughts in each session instead of waiting for a Q&A.
A Few Session Takeaways
Learning to Code — There was an interesting discussion on ways of staying motivated while learning to code. Some great suggestions were to set small, reachable goals with interesting projects. Have accountability partners who you check in with each week. Go to local meetups and discuss what you are working on. But my favorite was the suggestion of getting a cat! One attendee had a cat who woke her up early every morning (I can relate to this). She used this time to take an hour or so to learn to code.
X-Ray Goggles — I previously wrote an article on the process of using Firebug to learn code. Another attendee pointed out another excellent tool from Mozilla called X-Ray Goggles. Like Firebug, you can edit a website directly in the browser, but X-ray Goggles also allows you to save your changes on their server so you can continue to play around with the code.
Challenges & Solutions — Many of the sessions were dedicated to discussing how the tech community can become a more inclusive place for everyone. This is such an important issue that I think more people in the tech community need to address. There are many problems that still exist that attempt to silence women and minorities and make them feel as if they do not belong. Among some of the solutions discussed was the need for more allies. In short, a change in culture is needed in order to solve this issue and it can’t only be dependent on those who are affected by exclusion.
Accessibility — Since inclusivity is so important, I would be amiss to not mention accessibility in tech. There were a few discussions on how important creating accessible websites. There have been many positive changes in terms of the technology that web designers/developers use. These include using web fonts (Google Fonts & Typekit) instead of images for headers, the decreasing use of Flash, the use of semantic code in HTML5, etc. Designer and developers can also be conscious of the color choices we make to ensure there is enough contrast. Apps like Color Oracle are also useful in testing sites for color blind users.
It was an great experience to be surrounded by so many intelligent people with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. I also have to commend the organizers of AdaCamp, they created an amazingly supportive environment that encouraged so many amazing discussions.