Saturday, 12 July 2008

Industrial Revolution

There's the chance I should have made more of that portion of the iceberg that necessarily lies below the waterline visible. For instance, an 1848 shaped by the discovery and exploitation of both Liliputians and Brobdingnagians. What might such an 1848 be like? Would it be an 1848 still rooted, for the most part, in late 18th-century? Or would it be more like 1914?

"Actually that is something else that bothers me about the book. Why did he very deliberately choose 1848, the year of revolutions? The Franco-British war (what pitifully small portion of it we glimpse) bears more relationship to Napoleonic era warfare nearly half a century earlier. "

Or: Liliputians might be exploited to make smaller and more intricate machines; but in a C19th context such machines are really just toys. On the other hand, Brobdingnagians would be used to do the super-heavy lifting, and for that reason the big machines of the C19th industrial revolution need not be invented. Since it is the big machines that made the industrial revolution happen, this would surely have an effect of stagnating technological advance. It's different now, of course: although culture is often strangely enamoured of enormities of scale, in fact the late 20th-century technological revolution was all about miniaturisation (about the Lillis, not the Brobs).

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