Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ada Lovelace Day- Carmen Sandiego

Ada Lovelace day is about celebrating women in science and technology, and as is my want, I'm going to talk about a woman who is literally IN technology.

This woman in technology was and is an aspirational character who influenced a generation (and certainly me) to show that girls and woman can be anything, even international supervillains. Designed to teach geography, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego was released in 1985, and released a dozen successful games between then and 2001. The games also spawned a game show on PBS, several movies, a few animated serieses, a smattering of books and even an album from the game show by the band Rockapella.

Carmen Isabella Sandiego is a Hispanic, international thief with a lot of ambition and an absurd degree of technical acumen. Carmen Sandiego is a classic outlaw, a modern day femme fatale who not only knew how to run an international organized crime syndicate but was well versed in the world's treasures, coming up with countless schemes that somehow involved stealing the Taj Mahal, Ankgor Wat or Big Ben. Carmen Sandiego not only found a new way to logistically move these artifacts and monuments in every mission but she was particularly hard to catch.

She was always one step ahead of the ACME Detective Agency, whose chief was also at times a woman. As a little girl I spent hours learning geography while chasing Ms. Sandiego across space and time and I remember where Dar es Salaam is today in no small part because I played these games. Utilizing the video game format to teach with humor really resonated with this first generation of kids who had access to personal computers. Carmen Sandiego helped kids learn about the world they live in, historically, physically and even kept kids listening and reading as they learned about plants, animals and art. Something that I think needs to be mentioned is that these games were popular with girls AND boys, they were educational and fun and no one really cared that Carmen Sandiego was a girl, she was awesome.

... so was her theme song.

1 comment:

  1. Saw your post on the list... Carmen Sandiego - LOVE IT!