Most of us will remember Michael Phelps’ historic run in the 2016 Rio Olympics that certified him as the winningest Olympian of all time. Most of us will also remember him this summer for the #PhelpsFace.
Generally speaking, when major universities team up to open something like a new $30 million computing center, there’s fanfare and ribbon-cutting and lots and lots of photos. But this month, when Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland open their new jointly-run computing center in East Baltimore, there will be very little brouhaha.
The next time you hear someone talk about debugging a computer program, think of Grace Hopper, the U.S. Naval officer and pioneering computer scientist who once removed an actual bug (okay, a moth) from a glitchy machine. Hopper is also known for being one of the first software engineers, inventing the compiler, and generally being a bad-ass lady computer scientist when that world was very much closed off to women. And although things have changed, the computing world is still overwhelmingly male. Which is why it’s extra-exciting (and important!) that Baltimore plays host to the international Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing this week.
On June 8, the technologically-minded will converge on Baltimore for the Second Baltimore Hackathon, in which participants have 48 hours to take a hardware or software project from idea to prototype. Prizes will be awarded in the following categories: technical complexity, smart design, civic service, aesthetics, crowd favorite, and hacker/DIY.
Remember that city slogan that no one likes to talk about anymore? “The City That Reads,” introduced in 1987 by then-mayor Kurt Schmoke, was, as the Utne Reader puts it, “well-intentioned but immediately mockable.” Part of the problem is that Baltimore doesn’t actually seem to be all that jazzed about books. Last year, Seattle residents checked out 18.7 books per resident. In Baltimore? Two.
But new research shows that our apparent aversion to libraries might be changing, in part thanks to the recession. (See? There’s a silver lining to every economic disaster.) Baltimore’s library use rose a whopping 25 percent from 2005 to 2011 — that’s more than any other city in the study except Detroit. However, during that same period, circulation declined by 9 percent, possibly indicating that library visitors were more drawn to the free computers than the free books. Should book lovers be dismayed?