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Update and Preview August 9, 2013

Posted by Will Thomas in Technocracy in the UK.
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This is basically a quick post to serve as evidence that I am still alive and well. I’m now living in Silver Spring, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC.  The last month has been incredibly busy as I’ve transitioned back to life in the United States, and into a new job, all toting along a one-year-old.  I have had some opportunity to work on my interests in the history of science, but not ones that will result in a blog post. However, one of the big things I’ve been doing is inspired by the continued traffic I’m seeing on my “Agricultural Colleges in Britain” post.  Basically that post presented a chronological list of Britain’s colleges.  But it turns out to be possible—thanks largely to the British zeal for local history—to pinpoint their locations (and the locations of agricultural research facilities), even for those that are now long gone.

So, what I’ve been doing is working on my skills with Javascript and (partially inspired by Alex Wellerstein’s marvelous work on Nukemap) the Google Maps API, to create a temporally dynamic map of Britain’s landscape of agricultural research and education.  The above image is a non-dynamic still, which aggregates all locations I have mapped even though they might not have co-existed in time.  I have the time variable working, but I don’t have all the foundation/closure/name-change information programmed in.  And, as you can see from the image, I have put little effort into making it look pretty.  I can’t say when this will go up, given my schedule, but I think it’s an interesting exercise.  It nicely demonstrates that any historical appreciation of agricultural science and education in Britain cannot take into account the experiences of a single location or handful of locations, but must contend with the full research and education landscape, with which agricultural experts during any part of the twentieth century would have been well familiar.

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