‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good computer, must be in want of an app.’ Jacqui Hogan CITP MBCS takes a playful but thought-provoking tour through Jane Austen’s life and work and asks how the writer might have woven today’s technology into her fiction.

These are (almost) the most memorable words written by Jane Austen in her most memorable book Pride and Prejudice , so they seemed the most appropriate way to open a webinar entitled ‘What if Jane Austen had been a geek?’

I’ve been a fan of Jane Austen for over 25 years and have worked in a variety of IT roles for almost the entirety of my career. So, it was easy to say yes when the BCS Hampshire branch asked me to put together a talk involving both, to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Jane Austen Society. After all, Jane Austen lived for most of her life in Hampshire.

In considering how this might be done, I decided to focus on three of her novels along with her life, to see how being a geek might have enabled her to include many of the technologies we now take for granted. Two hundred years ago, they wouldn’t even have had mobile phones with which to make assignations. Shocking! Just imagine how the stories might have been different if they did have tech...

Pride and Prejudice - or match making made easy (er)

As those who’ve read the book will know, this is the story of five sisters with a mother hell-bent on finding suitable matches for them. Imagine how much easier this would be if she could search for young gentlemen living locally on LinkedIn.

Surprisingly, when I looked, I found that Mr Darcy (the main hero) is already there. How convenient! Sadly, it did not include his annual income - an oversight I am sure LinkedIn will address in their next updates. I can envision Mrs Bennet poring over LinkedIn entries, eager to find a newcomer before her neighbouring mothers do.

Mr Darcy is a fine young man, who has a clear idea of the perfect woman. In his explanation of this to the heroine Elizabeth, he says (almost):