About

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

I'm currently helping people build better products and experiences at Artesia, a consultancy I co-founded.

Previously I:

… and other things.

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

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 exciting 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.

RTV SLO MMC island in Second Life

At Artesia, the startup I co-founded, we got the opportunity to build and manage a Second Life virtual island. The project was commissioned by the Multimedia Center (MMC) at RTV SLO (Slovenian national broadcaster) and had to reflect its brand and offer high-quality content for its visitors. I created the island concept and coordinated its development with a Portuguese company. Once the MMC island was launched in March 2008, I organized and hosted several community events, such as live concerts, contests, and other fun and educational activities for Slovenian Second Life residents.

Tech diversity

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 the Slovenian IT industry. I also founded a Europe-wide initiative to promote computer science more widely.

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. In 2016 I organized the first CodeCatz workshop based on a Jekyll tutorial that I wrote as part of our CodeCatz activities (see below).

CodeCatz

As a follow-up to Rails and Django Girls workshops, we formed CodeCatz, a coding study group in which women are never in the minority. We held regular 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.

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.

Research

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.

COBISS personal bibliography | Google Scholar | Research Gate

Some research highlights:

Quantified self 

After testing and experimenting with various activity trackers over the span of 3 years, I wrote a series of blog posts entitled Exploring the Quantified Self. The series documents my personal experience with wearables and explores future trends, possibilities, and dangers of the technology.

Virtual worlds

I started experimenting with using Second Life for teaching while I was still an undergraduate student of Media Communications, working as an online tutor. I ended up writing the paper Virtual worlds in education and Moodle for the 3rd International Slovenian MoodleMoot in 2009. I also created a Virtual Worlds Introduction: Second Life and Beyond that has received 50,000+ views on Slideshare.

Talks & writing

Talks

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

Some of my publicly available talks:

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.