Edinburgh’s Industrial Information Revolution

On Thurs­day 24 May 2012 Dr Aileen Fyfe of the Uni­ver­si­ty of St Andrews will give a lec­ture enti­tled Edin­burgh’s Indus­tri­al Infor­ma­tion Rev­o­lu­tion as part of the Under­stand­ing Tech­nol­o­gy series, at Nation­al Muse­ums Scot­land, Cham­bers Street, in coop­er­a­tion with the Insti­tute for the Study of Sci­ence, Tech­nol­o­gy and Inno­va­tion, Uni­ver­si­ty of Edin­burgh. Her top­ic is the nature and avail­abil­i­ty of print­ed infor­ma­tion which was rad­i­cal­ly trans­formed in mid-nine­teenth cen­tu­ry Britain, thanks to the arrival of new print tech­nolo­gies and expand­ing read­ing audiences.

This talk will exam­ine that rev­o­lu­tion from an Edin­burgh per­spec­tive, con­sid­er­ing the avail­abil­i­ty of machin­ery and exper­tise, and the par­tic­u­lar chal­lenges faced by pub­lish­ers in North Britain who sought to com­pete with Lon­don pub­lish­ers in a nation­al mar­ket. Pub­lish­ers William & Robert Cham­bers were among the first in Edin­burgh to adopt steam-print­ing and stereo­typ­ing, which they believed would enable them to ful­fil their ambi­tions of mass pop­u­lar edu­ca­tion. These print­ing tech­nolo­gies became part of a com­plex sys­tem — incor­po­rat­ing rail­ways, steamships and the postal ser­vice -“ which enabled W. & R. Cham­bers to build a nation­al, and then inter­na­tion­al, busi­ness ded­i­cat­ed to the dif­fu­sion of infor­ma­tion and the pro­mo­tion of pop­u­lar education.

Venue: Learn­ing Cen­tre Sem­i­nar Room, Nation­al Muse­ums Scot­land, Cham­bers Street, Edin­burgh EH1 1JF. Admis­sion free.

Please reg­is­ter with Mau­reen Kerr on 0131 247 4274 or m.kerr@nms.ac.uk