About

O hai, I’m Alja (pronounced Aalyah). I'm a geek, writer and researcher from Ljubljana, Slovenia.

My passion is combining diverse skills to create enjoyable user experiences and make technology more human. As a PhD student, I’m currently focused on the research side of technology and the development of next generation user interfaces.

I also organize free programming workshops for women that more than 1% of all women in Slovenia have already applied to. Previously I:

… and other things.

Want to get in touch? Email me at ialja@me.com (languages: English, Slovenian, Italian).

Research

I’m currently a PhD student at the Faculty of Computer and Information Science, University of Ljubljana. I’m also a member of LGM - Laboratory for Computer Graphics and Multimedia. The focus of my research is Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).

COBISS personal bibliography

Follow my research work on: Google Scholar | Research Gate

Previous research highlights:

Quantified self 

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.

Virtual worlds

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.

Online tutors in e-learning

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.

Product & UX

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:

CubeSensors / Koto

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.

RTVSLO MMC island in Second Life

One of the most interesting projects at Artesia, the startup I co-founded, was a Second Life virtual island that would reflect 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.

Tech diversity

Diversity is important for any industry. I encourage women to get into tech and companies to create more human friendly work environments. Superhero capes optional.

Free programming workshops for women

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. This year, we are launching the CodeCatz tutorial, an even more beginner friendly workshop.

CodeCatz

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.

VP Neelie Kroes’ Young Advisor for the Digital Agenda

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.

Talks & interviews

Talks

I regularly give talks at tech events and lectures on technological trends for both companies and educational institutions.

Some of my publicly available talks:

Interviews

A few of the most interesting interviews:

For some weird reason I recently also gave a bunch of interviews on the phenomena of Pokémon GO (in Slovenian).

Writing

I try to write at least 750 words each day. On some days, I even share my words with the world, especially on Medium.

You might enjoy reading my:

Other

From virtual worlds to the internet of things: I enjoy figuring out how new tools fit into our lives and share my experiences in various formats.