The interactive storyteller behind Ada.Ada.Ada, Zoe Philpott talks about making online videos in the dial-up age and realising she was a ‘STEAMer’ before the term even existed.

Zoe Philpott said during her Inspirefest 2016 keynote that her own experiences of trying to merge the worlds of art and science have only really become possible in the past decade or so.

Recalling her university days, Philpott spoke of how in 1991, her tutor dismissed the idea of her learning coding at university, in what would later become known as an example of science, technology, engineering, art and maths (STEAM).

Describing the conversation, Philpott said on stage: “[The tutor] said: ‘You’re an artistic type and you’re a girl. Don’t you think you should do philosophy?’”

Lovelace is the original woman of STEAM

This didn’t stop her from eventually making it into the world of tech. One of her early career highlights came in 1999 when she founded Tornado Ahead, a webcasting website that preceded – and did much of the same stuff as – YouTube today.

In concluding her keynote, Philpott spoke of what inspired her to do her one-woman show on Lovelace.

“What I noticed when walking through central London was that there were no statues of women. They were mainly men who died 200 years ago that probably killed a lot of people. Where are the women in history?”

Words by Colm Gorey