- History of Science
- History of Technology
- Modern British History
- History of Computing
- History of Telecommunications
- Environmental History
- History of Intelligence and Cryptography
- Science and Technology Studies
My research has primarily focussed on the history of computing and communications in Britain. My PhD thesis explored how computing and telecommunications shaped the rise of the British neoliberal state – the British telecommunications network was fundamental to Thatcherism, as its 1981 liberalisation underpinned Thatcherist industrial policies emphasising information technology’s market power, and its successful 1984 sale popularised the privatisation of state infrastructure. I show that cybernetics and information theory, two theories of computing and communications, laid the groundwork for liberalisation and privatisation, and so argue that Thatcherism was not a purely top-down political project, but was anticipated, negotiated, and enacted by engineers, scientists, and their theories about computing and communications.
My current research continues my interest in cybernetics and information theory. As Postdoctoral Researcher on Ursula Martin’s project, ‘The Social Machine of Mathematics’, I focus on the historical circulation and impact of ideas in mathematics and computing. I selected cybernetics and information theory as two ideas which circulated far and wide after World War II, influencing diverse research, from economic modelling and robotics to psychiatry and architecture.
I have also developed interests in environmental history, intelligence history, and the history of futurology. In environmental history, I researched Anglo-American post-war transatlantic communication projects during a Smithsonian Fellowship at the Lemelson Center for Invention and Innovation, the National Museum of American History. I have researched the history of intelligence and cryptography as part of my previous role at the Science Museum, London, where I worked on a forthcoming exhibition on these subjects. My interest in the history of futurology has developed from my research into computer modelling and science fiction in the British Post Office, and I have a forthcoming chapter in an OUP edited collection, Futures, which will discuss this.