Selected Writing / Papers

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Book Review: Eric Schatzberg, Technology: Critical History of a Concept (Chicago: 2018) in The British Journal for the History of Science (2024).

Long research article (OA) in Technology & Culture (2023) which uses a language model to explore 19th century text datasets for their uses of figurative language and metaphor in the discourse of technology and machines. “The Living Machine:A Computational Approach to the Nineteenth-Century Language of Technology“, written with Ruth Ahnert, Kaspar Beelen and Mariona Coll Ardanuy.

A pair of blogposts (2023) about some experimental work in historical document analysis: ‘Directory Enquiries’. Part one on the Science Museum website; part two on the Turing website.

An award-winning (by the AHA) computer vision pipeline for analysing historical maps called Mapreader, with a case study based on the nineteenth-century Ordnance Survey (co-authored with Hosseini, McDonough et al.): ‘Mapreader: a computer vision pipeline for the semantic exploration of maps at scale’, Proc. 6th ACM SIGSPATIAL GeoHums 2022.

A sole-authored article on the importance of ‘scale’ in computational humanities, data science and STS in Science Museum Group Journal 18 (Autumn, 2022): ‘Working at scale: what do computational methods mean for research using cases, models and collections?’

A major article (OA) in Digital Scholarship in the Humanities (2022) on how to think about large digitised collections, their provenance and composition; or, doing ‘source criticism at scale’, in this case with 19th-century newspapers. Co-authored with Kaspar Beelen and Jon Lawrence: ‘Bias and representativeness in digitized newspaper collections: Introducing the environmental scan’

An article (OA) in the Journal of Victorian Culture (2021) on using computer vision and machine learning on a large corpus of digitised historical maps to investigate changing nineteenth-century infrastructure, co-authored with McDonough, Vane et al.: ‘Maps of a Nation? The Digitized Ordnance Survey for New Historical Research’

An essay on the historical explanation of industrialisation, on prophecy and on economic history, entitled ‘How we got here,’ in Time Travelers: Victorian encounters with time and history, edited by Adelene Buckland & Sadiah Qureshi with a foreword by Mary Beard (University of Chicago Press, 2020).

A research article published in May 2019 (from the December 2018 issue) in History of the Human Sciences, “Babbage among the insurers: big nineteenth-century data and the public interest,” 31: 5 (129-153) (or OA pre-print here.)

A review of a book on US insurance, medicine and race: The British Journal for the History of Science 49.3 (2016): 520-1. DOI.

A research article in the Journal of British Studies about the New Liberal J.A. Hobson which reveals the centrality of technology to his heterodox political and economic thought: ‘J. A. Hobson and the Machinery Question,’ Journal of British Studies, 54.2 (2015): 377-405.

A research article in History and Memory about the uses of history conceived as a scientific method for understanding the social malaise of late Victorian Britain and its origins in industrialism: ‘Arnold Toynbee and the Industrial Revolution: The Science of History, Political Economy and the Machine Past,’ History & Memory, 26.2 (2014): 133-161.

‘Penty against the machine: the enigma of technology in British political thought’, a paper delivered at the ANR colloquium ‘Technologies et socialismes: théories, imaginaires, pratiques au XIXe siècles’ at the Université de Bourgogne, Dijon, June 2013.

‘The Projectile Power of the Mind: Babbage, Risk & Insurance’, a paper delivered at the ‘Three Societies Meeting’ (HSS, BSHS & CSHPS) at UPenn in Philadelphia, July 2012.

A review of a new book about American industry in the nineteenth century. Medical History 55.4 (2011): 562-3. DOI.

‘Hobson and the Machine’, a paper delivered at the BSHS annual conference, University of Aberdeen, July 2010.

A review of a new book on ‘Scientism’ in nineteenth-century Europe: The British Journal for the History of Science 42.3 (2009) 469-70: DOI

“Late-Victorian science views the Industrial Revolution”, a paper delivered at the joint annual conference of BAVS & NAVSA, entitled Past versus Present, hosted by the University of Cambridge, Victorian Studies Group , July 2009.

“Looking forward, looking backward: scientists as historians at the British Association”, a paper delivered at the annual conference of the British Society for the History of Science at the University of Leicester, July 2009.

“Two’s company, three’s a crowd: engineers in the history of the two cultures”. A paper delivered at the conference, Art and Science Now: The Two Cultures in Question; a collaboration between the Science Museum, Tate Modern and the London Consortium in January 2009, marking the 50th aniversary of CP Snow’s Rede Lecture. A modified version of this argument was also presented at the BSHS graduate conference in Manchester.

This review essay of two books in the history of technology, by David Edgerton and Bernhard Rieger, also reflects on some historiographical issues.  “The Birth of Now”, History Workshop Journal 65 (2008) 252-258:DOI

“Bridging the gap: Raymond Williams and the ‘Interregnum’, c.1880-1914”. A paper delivered at the annual IHR conference, “Turning Points”, in London, June 2008.

“Knights of Science: the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1874-1902”. A paper delivered to the Birkbeck research student workshop, February 2008.

“Engagement or consolation? The utopias of HG Wells and GK Chesterton”. A paper delivered at the conference, “Happiness: Lessons from the Arts”, Queen Mary, University of London, 2006.

“Imperfect Necessity. Aspects of Violence: the Unabomber, Thoreau and John Brown.” A long essay on technology, rationality and political violence.