If you're planning to come to SHA2017, you may have looked at the list of fields. It's a pretty long list, so maybe your first thought was something like 'Wow, much name, such list, very fields'. And if it was, you're not wrong: it's a long list because we have many fields. And we gave them all a name because it's more fun and easier to remember than a number or a letter code.
So how were those names chosen? I can tell you that because I made that list. And I wanted to reach certain goals as I sat down to make it.
First of all, I wanted the names to be names of people who were memorable, who were pioneers in their area, be it computing, cryptography, medical innovation, aviation, space technology, internet privacy... or even heroes of some kind. They had to be notable enough to have their own Wikipedia page and interesting enough to be looked up.
- Then I got the idea that I wanted to have 50% women on that list. Because very often, women are not very visible in the fields (ha!) of tech and science and that makes me sad. We think they are very very rare, and while they are in the minority, that is just not true. There are plenty of interesting, notable women in tech and science, but you often have to look a little bit harder to find them. So that's what I did.
- After that, I checked to make sure that the names were not too similar to each other (because that would be confusing), not too long to put on a sign and also not impossible to pronounce.
- Finally, I figured that it would be practical if the field names would help you navigate around. So I decided that the names would be applied in alphabetical order, starting at the northern side of the field, and going down to the southern side. So if a friend tells you they are at Wozniak field, and you're presently at Clarke field, you already know that you'll have to cross pretty much the entire terrain to meet them and it would be wise to grab a bottle of mate for the trip; however, if they are at Babbage field, it's worth sticking your arms up and waving: they may be able to see you.
Each field has its own page on the wiki; each of those pages has a link to the Wikipedia entry of the person whose name we borrowed. And so if you think 'But I've never even heard of Margaret Hamilton'... you're in luck. All it takes to change that is one click!
No srsly, look her up. She's pretty damn cool.
See you on the field!