Martha Girdler hails from Franklin, Tennesse, but is spending the summer Brooklyn-side thanks to an Etsy grant for this summer’s session of Hacker School (thank you Marc Hedlund!). When not spinning up servers, Martha enjoys updating her ‘sooooo cute’ tumblr stream and putting a dent in the “where are all women in tech?” question. Martha tweets @marthakelly and can be found on writing here.
How did you discover and first become engaged in technology?
I have always been a very shy and introverted person, so I spent extra time in the computer lab in elementary school. My first real programming experience was writing a StarWars DOS game in 4th grade.
What was the most important thing that you’ve learned in the past year and how did you learn it?
Do not let the “fear of looking like an idiot” get in the way of asking questions or learning new things. I started learning so much more when I resigned myself to the fact that some people (programmers are excellent at this) have ridiculous egos and are super stubborn. Don’t give those people a second thought. Find the good ones, learn from them.
What excites you about coding?
I get excited about building really fast systems that connect people.
What is good code?
Good code is consistent code. I think the best legacy a programmer can leave behind is good documentation. Project specific style guides are a must! They prevent bikeshedding – which means wasting time arguing over code-writing style.
What are the top 5 apps you can’t live without?
If you could design an app that would solve any problem in the world, what would it be?
I would make an app that gives the user ultimate control on how their passwords are encrypted/stored.
How can people use technology to create change in the world?
People should use technology to educate themselves and others. The internet makes self-education possible (and removes a lot of excuses!).
Who do you most admire?
Sheryl Sandberg, no question.
Where do you feel most inspired?
I feel most inspired thinking through really hard problems with people I admire. That is the best feeling in the world, no matter where you are.
Who influenced you most growing up and why?
I’m still growing up! But, as a child, my grandmother influenced me the most. She was an artist and an antiques dealer and used the internet/eBay to promote her businesses. I still admire her very much.
What was the best advice you’ve ever been given?
When dealing with a difficult situation or person, always assume positive intent.