Welcome to Muse & Reason, I’m Robert Winter and this is my public Memex.

This site is loosely divided into history, philosophy, politics, social comment and technology.

Moxie and the Server

But to determine if Moxie’s statement is ‘true’, we don’t need to poll everyone alive or work out how to ask people yet to be born what are their future intentions. Instead, we simply need to understand the category of the statement and from that work out the balance of probability.

January 17, 2022 · 9 min read · 1815 words

The Linux Paradigm

Everywhere I look at present, people seem to be waving the ‘white flag in a temporary truce’. What is more, it is understandable. I have used Linux on and, mostly, off for many years. The main reason for my installation of Linux is privacy and open source. The main reason I switch back — usability. I know, this will likely provoke howls of terminal outrage (pun intended) from those who have long walked the kernel path....

December 26, 2021 · 8 min read · 1634 words

Power and Control: Tech Billionaires in Politics

In literary fiction, the notion of a ‘conceit’ refers to a solution which is imaginary, or rarely occurs, to ensure the plot can progress unimpeded by the realities of the real world. An example of this is warp speed in Star Trek. But conceit also has another meaning which carries both positive and negative connotations. The former occurs when a writer helps the reader to discover a more nuanced understanding of a situation or object....

November 7, 2021 · 6 min read · 1271 words

Santa Fe Emergent Engineering 2021: Niall Ferguson

This year the Santa Fe Institute held its Annual ACtioN & Board of Trustees Symposium: Emergent Engineering during which Niall Ferguson spoke about Emergently Engineering the Past. Some highlights from his presentation: Most of what we call #history is the close study of tail events that really are interesting because of the scale of mortality, the spectacular nature of the failure, the nature that disasters are not evenly distributed....

November 5, 2021 · 1 min · 186 words

Polywork, A New Professional Network

In a recent ambling along the Fediverse road, I discovered a new professional networking initiative called Polywork. The premise of its creators is fairly simple: We just thought it was high time a professional network existed that let you represent all the wonderful things you actually do as a professional…we want to build a network that empowers you and gives you control over your identity and your future opportunities....

October 31, 2021 · 4 min read · 655 words

Fourth Way — Living in Harmony with our Online Presence

Camille Flammarion’s 1888 book, L’atmosphère: météorologie populaire [The Atmosphere: Popular Meteorology], contains a striking wood engraving that depicts a missionary of the Middle Ages who tells that he had ‘found the point where the sky and the Earth touch’. At this intersection, where heaven and earth meet, the missionary is able to pass his head through the sky and glimpse the realm which lies beyond the heavens. Flammarion makes clear the purpose of his imagery:...

September 27, 2021 · 5 min read · 970 words

My Copy of The Times

In days or yore, I would have spoken of ‘my copy of The Times.’ After all, it is a hard copy, I paid for it and I can port it around. It is, for all intents and purposes ‘mine’. But in the digital age it isn’t ‘my copy,’ rather it is my temporary access so long as the subscription lasts. Of course, in the era of ‘my copy’ there was not assertion to a copy(right), much less copy(left), over the printed work....

August 27, 2021 · 3 min read · 454 words

Life is Long, Access is Short

In a recent exchange on the Fediverse, I was put in mind of trust relationships. Do you trust your government? In these unmannerly times, do you even acknowledge that the government of your country is your government? Do you trust your doctor? Do you trust your police force? Do you trust your digital service provider? The last enquiry is my muse this day. An enquiry which is redolent with both aspects of trust: the ethical and the technical....

August 2, 2021 · 4 min read · 778 words

A Peer's Tube

In a recent article, I waxed lyrical about expanding my self-hosted services into the realm of the media social with a Mastodon to call my own. The driver is not that I abhor commerce, that would be biting the hand that feeds me after all. Nor that my world view is so fragile it can’t abide contradiction, far from it. The cut and thrust of debate is largely what gets me up in the morning....

July 19, 2021 · 6 min read · 1241 words

Intellectual Warehouse

In a recent article, The Memex Method, Cory Doctorow unpacked the notion of making a public database of your commonplace book. The idea is based on Vannevar Bush’s 1945 ‘As We May Think,’ in which Dr. Bush posited the idea of a memory expander: Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and to coin one at random, “memex” will do....

June 4, 2021 · 7 min read · 1467 words