George Wilson's Map of Technology: giving shape to the ‘industrial arts’ in mid-nineteenth-century Edinburgh - NMS Research Repository
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George Wilson's Map of Technology: giving shape to the ‘industrial arts’ in mid-nineteenth-century Edinburgh

10 October 2016

Abstract

An intriguing symbol adorns the grave, in Edinburgh's Old Calton Burial Ground, of George Wilson (1818–1859), Britain's first Professor of Technology. Wilson himself had devised the symbol as an emblem for the Industrial Museum of Scotland of which he was Director. In his professorial role he defined and delineated the ‘territorial features’ and ‘intellectual architecture’ of the novel academic discipline of technology. As the founding-Director of the Museum he imagined into being collections which materialised and illustrated the new subject. The paper interprets the emblem as a conceptual map of technology and uses it as the starting point from which to explore Wilson's understanding of what constituted his subject. Thus, the paper examines the Museum as itself a technology for presenting and representing technology. Further, it explores the intertwining of people, things and ideas which, for Wilson, constituted and were productive of technology.

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