Category Archives: History

The Elusive Disappearance of Community

From Laslett ‘Phillipe Ariès and “La Famille”‘ p.83 (quoted in Eisenstein, p.131): The actual reality, the tangible quality of community life in earlier towns or villages … is puzzling … and only too susceptible to sentimentalisation. People seem to want to believe that there was a time when every one belonged to an active, supportive […]

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Estimating Information Production and the Size of the Public Domain

Here we’re going to look at using library catalogue data as a source for estimating information production (over time) and the size of the public domain. Library Catalogues Cultural institutions, primarily libraries, have long compiled records of the material they hold in the form of catalogues. Furthermore, most countries have had one or more libraries […]

Also posted in Academic, Copyright, Culture and Society, Economics, EUPD, Innovation and Intellectual Property, Own Work | 1 Response

Talk by Frederick Scherer: Deregulatory Roots of the Current Financial Crisis

Last Thursday I attended a talk by Frederick Scherer at the [Judge] entitled: “Deregulatory Roots of the Current Financial Crisis”. Below are some sketchy notes. Notes Macro story: Huge current account deficit for last 10-15 years Expansionary Fed policy has permitted this to happen while interest rates are low Median real income has not risen […]

Also posted in Economics, Musings, Notes | 1 Response

A History in Bits of Bits in History

I’ve started work on a book on the “Information Age”. Still at a very early stage and largely outlines but I do have a first draft of the introduction which is available below. I also have a tentative title of This Information Age – A History in Bits of Bits in History. Introduction We live […]

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To Lose a Battle: France 1940 by Alistair Horne

7/10. Well written and fascinating, particularly in its clear demonstration of the way the French just ‘gave up’ (both generally in the inter-war period and in 1940 itself). I would have preferred more analytical clarity regarding exactly when things went wrong and why — at some moments Horne seems to be suggesting that a sufficiently […]

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Death in Hamburg: Society and Politics in the Cholera Years, 1830-1910 by Richard Evans

6/10. Death in Hamburg: Society and Politics in the Cholera Years, 1830-1910 by Richard Evans This book promises much but ultimately rather disappoints, largely because of its tendency to lose focus, sprawling into this of that side-avenue. Partly this must be due to a lack of clarity as to what the book is about — […]

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Cannibalism and the Common Law by A Simpson

7/10. Cannibalism and the Common Law: The Story of the Tragic Last Voyage of the Mignonette and the Strange Legal Proceedings to Which It Gave Rise by A Simpson, University of Chicago Press, 1984. More history than legal analysis. Interesting throughout but meandering slightly towards the end. One quote I wish to memorialize, which though […]

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Is Game Theory of Any Value for the Historical Analysis of Institutions?

I was much much struck by generally pessimistic tone of Gregory Clark’s lengthy review in the JEL’s September issue of Avner Greif’s Institutions and the Path to the Modern Economy. These comments have wider implications for the application of economic tools (especially game theory) to the analysis of historical outcomes, particularly in relation to institutions, […]

Also posted in Economics, Notes | 1 Response

Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy 1944 by Max Hastings

7.5/10. Finished a few weeks ago this is another (rather earlier) example of Hastings’ skill in writing penetrating and engaging military history, as well as his willingness to be critical of existing ‘sacred cows’. Among other things Hastings: Argues that the famous Mulberrys were probably a waste of time and resources. Shows how the Air […]

Also posted in Books, Knowledge Systems | 1 Response

Path-Dependent vs. Ergodic Systems

Consider a metal arm fixed by a pin. If it is hung vertically then the arm, no matter where it starts, will always end up in the same position. However, if you fix the arm (perfectly) horizontally it will stay forever in its initial position. The first case is ergodic: we converge independent of the […]

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