Friday, 17 July 2009

To the Difference Engine!

For fans of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage: 2D Goggles. This is the site for animator (Melina) Sydney Padua's steampunk webcomic about Lovelace and Babbage in a pocket dimension where they become crime-fighting adventurers. The strip is under development and bit fragmentary so far, but for coherent sections see the introductions to the characters at Lovelace - the origin (drawn for Ada Lovelace Day) and BBC Techlab; the three-part story Lovelace and Babbage vs The Economy (parts 1, 2, 3); The Person from Porlock (which reveals the truth behind Coleridge's famous interruption).

Sydney Padua, who admits the whole thing is experimental, as she's not a comic artist by profession, describes it as:

either the agonizing birth pangs, or monstrous death-throes, of a comic.

I hope it proceeds to fruition. Her style is brilliant (akin to that of Posy Simmonds) and the commentary about the history and development process is worth reading too:

Isambard Kingdom Brunel was like the Wolverine of the early Victorians.
I read the extraordinary Charles Babbage’s comic masterpiece of an autobiography. I urge everyone to read it immediately. It has charts. CHARTS!

And there are generally interesting (if you're a bit geeky) Lovelace/Babbage links such as the Lego and Meccano Difference Engines. The merchandise is fun too, especially that with the nice ST:TNG pastiche of Ada working in the Difference Tubes.

- Ray


  1. Now who could this be? (From here): He was indeed a genius, to judge by what he planned to achieve as well as what he did achieve. His irascibility was notorious. (he) was thoroughly British, stubbornly eccentric, tenaciously visionary, sometimes scatterbrained, and quite wealthy...

    I can think of only one candidate (maybe two)...

    Oh, and one "error" I discovered in the biography. In the intro to the chapter on "Street Nuisances" one group of aficionados of street music are labeled "Ladies of elastic virtue" whereas in the table you reference they are the more prosaic "Ladies of doubtful virtue." My own opinion, for what it is worth, is that "elastic" has the superior cachet.

    Don't mean to be a Babbage Picker but we wouldn't want the master of numbers of 50 significant digits to be caught in an error. Must be a typo

  2. Hmph: I wish I was quite wealthy.

    Yes, Passages from the Life of a Philosopher uses both: "elastic" in the nearby text is far more picturesque.