Scenes from the National Museum of Scotland, Part the First

Jul 18, 2012

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I didn’t find it terribly surprising that Scotland’s National Museum presents the industrial revolution as an important component of Scottish national identity. After all, what better way to combat the anti-Pict stereotypes peddled in such racially insensitive works as Brave than to present the Scottish people as industrious and innovative by nature? Because that in no way would ever contribute to offensive stereotypes, now would it?

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Still, the museum’s example of a Jacquard Loom blew me away. It employs what are recognizable as punchcards to weave a pattern. Indeed, a cursory internet search makes clear that such devices are precursors of modern programming; their punchcards directly influenced Charles Babbage’s Analytical EngineFiat Steampunk!

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.