21stC web activist and 18thC feminist in one speech …


Dame Martha Lane Fox, who is championing the setting up of an Institute  – Dot Everyone – to drive digital knowledge in the UK, quoted the late internet activist Aaron Swartz in her talk for the BBC Dimbleby Lecture: “It’s not OK not to understand the internet anymore.” In a talk ‘Dot Everyone: Power, the Internet, and You’ she outlined three areas in which the UK needs to develop its digital skills:

  • to educate and understand the history of the internet;
  • to put women at the centre of digital skills and address the current gender imbalance;
  • to take a lead in exmining the moral and ethical challanges posed by the internet.

Throughout, she also name-checked pioneers in computer technology such as Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing, and Sir Tim Berners-Lee. In calling for a revolution in the government’s thinking towards digital skills, she finished her talk by quoting someone we students of eighteenth-century English writing are very aware of: the pioneering feminist Mary Wollstonecraft: “the beginning is always  today”. I was impressed …


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