This is a personal blog, please observe Think Hour for ad hoc quasi-diary writings and Big Ideas for my ratified longform items. I will see you there.


2020-12-07


Memex // Vannevar Bush

Memex

While looking for a cross-platform browser-agnostic turnkey solution to bookmarking recently I came across “Worldbrain’s Memex”, which looks cool. Their app/extension/site allows you to bookmark websites and/or highlight, like Evernote, parts of them across desktop web browsers and mobile. While the application/program is written up by them, you are untied to them beyond this. That means your bookmarks and notes are not frustratingly stored in their cloud, but are stored locally and still sync-able wherever the app is installed. This comes without detriment thanks to an option to sync to Google Drive for backup.

All data stored by Memex and Memex Go is saved on your devices by default, unless you optionally share with other parties or sync it. Our entire software stack is open-source and sync between your devices is end2end encrypted. You can backup your data to any of your favourite cloud providers in a JSON format.

I think I should look into this software more a little bit later on, because the main thing of superficial/passing interest (a trade the blog endeavours to specialize in) is what this software creation company is named after. “Memex” is actually the name of an information searching solution proposed by one Vannevar Bush many decades ago (no relation with other influential american Bush’s). The guy was a bit of a beastly mental athlete. Apparently a competent thinking man and engineer across multiple areas, his work includes multiple well-realized contributions to the primordial history of computing and, once WWII came around, personally detailing the yet-invented nuclear bomb, among other nuclear topics, for then-President Roosevelt.

Vannevar

The solution, which was proposed in an article published with title “As We May Think” while the endling of the axis powers breathed its last, comes almost eerily close to mirroring computers, hard drive and the world wide web as we know them today, the solution that came about to his highlighted problem of information consultation. Naturally, as does the solution we have today, his system mostly consists of bringing state-of-the-art tech together and having them work in tandem.

There is a growing mountain of research. But there is increased evidence that we are being bogged down today as specialization extends.

The impression of all of this is reduced slightly when you consider that on the whole, he’s basically conglomerating and describing the most efficient physical applications of the time (photographic film, arithmetic machines, specialized lab equipments and even filing cabinets) in an abstract and broad way to advocate for minifying the whole. There isn’t necessarily anything novel or specific being proposed, but given the article directly lead to “The Mother of All Demos”, in which a man uses a modern Windows computer in 1968, why bother attempting critique? I need to keep faulty contrarian tendency at bay.

Vannevar

It would however be interesting to think further on the possible implications the “extravagant mechanical filing cabinet” spec has had on computing - had this influential article never been published, would we be in a strange paradigm where we aren’t constricted to and focused on words wrapping like they do on oblong pages of a book? Why won’t my PDF files dynamically stretch to the width of my screen - and more dishearteningly, why don’t I want them to? I feel this is getting into a transhumanist area.

The human mind does not work that way. It operates by association. With one item in its grasp, it snaps instantly to the next that is suggested by the association of thoughts, in accordance with some intricate web of trails carried by the cells of the brain. It has other characteristics, of course; trails that are not frequently followed are prone to fade, items are not fully permanent, memory is transitory. Yet the speed of action, the intricacy of trails, the detail of mental pictures, is awe-inspiring beyond all else in nature.

I will leave on this quotation I have escaped from the article for three reasons:

Playing a Game Video // Stadia and GeForce Now

Cyberpunk

In more juvenile affairs, the upcoming release of Cyberpunk 2077 I have continued largely a disinterest in video gaming. However, I read that Jeff Gerstmann, famous gameplayer of increasingly cringe repute in my opinion, said that it reminded him of the recent additions of Deus Ex - a remark no doubt somewhat disparaging on his part but seen as a positive by me - I decided that maybe I really should enjoy playing it. This desire was reinforced even more by the fact it has caused undesirables across the spectrum (political and psychological) to become enraged for various reasons, as well as the fact it is developed by CD Projekt who are purveyors of excellent service GOG which offers DRM freedom, which I enjoy.

While game console playing was out of the window from the outset, I seriously doubted my PC could acceptably run the game. Lucky for me you can play videos pretty well now. I was honestly blown away when I tried Stadia, while the quality wasn’t so great and uncanny video artifacting surfaced in scenes with a lot of light range, playing the free version of Destiny 2 they offer was incredibly responsive and playable. It was seriously shocking, and this isn’t to mention the fact that using one of these streaming services means you can forgo sacrificing insane amounts of data-estate to a bloated modern game with no need to ever update.

OnLive

I did end up buying the game on Stadia, but I promptly took my money back from Google and steered back to shore to buy it directly from GOG when I heard you can use it with GeForce Now - free gamepad be damned. Nothing else to say here really… but I have to impress upon this text file just how shockingly well the streaming tech works, at least on Googles end.