O hai, I’m Alja (pronounced Aalyah). I'm a geek, writer, and researcher from Koper, Slovenia.
Currently writing words and interlocking bricks at Unbricked Fig to explore the bugs and features of the human condition.
… and other things.
Want to get in touch? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (languages: English, Slovenian, Italian).
I have years of experience in product development, user experience and community building on projects of various sizes. These are some of the most interesting projects I've worked on:
As employee #1, I’ve helped CubeSensors grow from a prototype to an IoT product that has been shipped to thousands of homes and offices in 50+ countries worldwide. I worked on user experience design (from the app to the packaging), research, copywriting, logistics and customer support. I also led the development of the Koto brand and its Indiegogo campaign.
One of the most interesting projects at Artesia, the startup I co-founded, was a Second Life virtual island that reflected the brand and vision of the multimedia center (MMC) at RTVSLO (Slovenian national broadcaster). I created the concept for the island and coordinated the development of the island, which was commissioned to a Portuguese company. The island provided a public space for Slovenian Second Life users with community events and offered MMC news in-world.
I spent a year doing research in the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) while I was enrolled in a Computer Science PhD program. Even though I decided to return to the startup world, research remains an important part of my work.
Some research highlights:
I’ve been testing various fitness trackers on myself for the past 3 years and wrote about my experience in the Exploring the Quantified Self series on Medium.
While working as an online tutor, I experimented with using Second Life for teaching and wrote the paper Virtual worlds in education and Moodle for the 3rd International Slovenian MoodleMoot 2009. I also created a Virtual Worlds Introduction: Second Life and Beyond that has received 50,000+ views on Slideshare.
As an undergraduate student of Media Communications, I worked as an online tutor in undergraduate and postgraduate online e-business courses delivered through Moodle. Through my research work, I focused on the role online tutors play in e-learning and created a model for online tutoring that identifies the key elements and skills tutors need to efficiently support e-learning in higher education.
Diversity is important for any industry. I encourage women to get into tech and companies to create more human friendly work environments. I spent almost 5 years organizing different events and initiatives (all volunteer-based) that started a conversation about diversity in Slovenian IT industry, and I also founded a Europe-wide initiative to promote computer science more widely.
I organized the first Rails Girls workshop in Slovenia in December 2012 while working at a startup accelerator. Since then, I've organized several Rails Girls and Django Girls workshops, for which we received 2,000+ applications from women between the ages of 14 and 64. In 2016 I organized the first CodeCatz workshop based on a Jekyll tutorial that I wrote as part of our CodeCatz activities (see below).
As a follow-up to Rails and Django Girls workshops, we formed CodeCatz, a coding study group where women are never in the minority. We held regularly weekly meetups and hacked open source projects together. Our biggest project was the events website for Europe Code Week, built in Django. We were also nominated as Person of the year 2014 by Delo, a national newspaper, for our efforts in popularizing programming among women. In 2016, we developed and organized our own CodeCatz workshop to help women get started with web development.
Because of my work in promoting women in technology, I was selected as one of the 25 members of the Young Advisors Expert Group formed by Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda.
While part of the group, I founded Europe Code Week and led the project for two years on a volunteer basis. Under my leadership, the initiative reached 38 countries and spread to 3,000+ events that promoted computer programming across Europe. I also coordinated the work of almost 90 local ambassadors.
I often give talks at tech events, and lectures on technological trends for both companies and educational institutions.
Some of my publicly available talks:
I try to write at least 750 words each day, not counting the words I write at Unbricked Fig.
A few of the most interesting interviews: