Welcome to Winter Ink
Articles and Essays from the keyboard of Dr Robert N. Winter.
A philosophical playground, Winter Ink Mastodon is a place from which we can exchange and explore ideas with the Fediverse in a respectful and thoughtful manner.
A Sovereign, Open and Healthy Web
When you post something on the web, it should belong to you, not a corporation. Too many companies have gone out of business and lost all of their users’ data. By running your own sites, your content stays yours and in your control.
Winter Ink represents our little corner of the web which values honest exploration of ideas, authentic content and is free from the arbitrary decisions of big tech.
It is with sadness that we bear witness to an increasing number of institutions and services adopting a ‘no platform’ policy because students, staff or external activists feel threatened by the views of potential speakers. Simply because we hear, read or even write a view does not mean we hold or endorse that view. It may simply mean we recognise its importance, if only as something to be rebutted, and think it better to expose and test the assertion against the full weight of evidence than let it stand on hearsay or speculation.
Social media provides a near unlimited outlet for any view, no matter how bigoted, anti-logical or ill-informed it may be. Only by bringing such views into forums filled with the best and the brightest, and having those ideas opened to the scrutiny of debate and analysis, may they finally be put to rest as potential solutions to the present discontents.
Winter Ink is an attempt to redress this tide of no platforming and provide a space for a voice which may be unpopular, but which strives to surface truths no matter how inconvenient.
Wink Ink is also a reaction to the use and abuse of safe spaces. A safe space is a crucial notion, but the concept must be extended to mean more than a place in which people who ‘feel’ marginalised can go to discuss their experiences of marginalisation free from any criticism, no matter how constructive.
If all counter arguments are suppressed, such spaces, far from equipping people with the tools to combat real, and imagined, marginalisation, will create the ultimate philosophical vacuum and only serve to fuel suspicion of all ‘out groups,’ that is to say groups who are deemed not to be part of the milieu of the marginalised. In such an environment it is little wonder minority and majority groups increasingly feel to be under siege.
Such sentiment could be effectively combatted if the concept of a ‘safe space’ was extended to mean a place in which all aspects of thought can be discussed, particularly those which deviate from the ‘marginalised’ consensus. Émile Durkheim observed ‘if purely moral rules are at stake, the public conscience restricts any act which infringes them.’
Without divergence from safe views, without an opposing system of thought or differing set or moral rules, consciousness will ‘petrify too easily into an immutable form. For it to evolve, individual originality must be allowed to manifest itself.’
If you want to protect your online voice, running your own services is a great solution. But running your own instance requires a quality hosting solution as you don’t want to find your service offline because the dog pulled the power cable out.
A Sustainable and Reliable Host
Winter Ink sites are run on Infomaniak servers because they provide near endless scalability and have developed their own data centers in Switzerland. This know-how, underpins their commitment to ecology and confidentiality, allowing them to guarantee your data sovereignty and to control the security of solutions from start to finish.
Conforming to global certification standards (ISO 14001, ISO 50001, ISO 27001), Infomaniak continuously improves and expands their systems and services and are regularly verified by external auditors.
Swiss law concerning data protection also ensures complete confidentiality both for businesses and for individuals, and no government can have access to personal information without the agreement of a judge.
To protect against those who would seek to take your sites down by illegal means, Infomaniak provides strong DDoS protection which can absorb 35 TB/s (see a live threat map), enough to ward off all but the most committed state actors. Physical attacks are guarded against by airlocks and an electronic access control system with biometric identification. In order to further reinforce the security of the datacenter, each sector and each path to the racks is equipped with a facial recognition system.
In addition to control, Infomaniak make firm and environmental commitments which are in accord with Winter Ink’s philosophy of a sustainable future. Specifically, Infomaniak pledge to:
Offset twice the volume of company-generated CO2 emissions
Infomaniak offsets its own CO2 emissions by 200%, including the manufacturing and disposal (recycling) of servers, generating electricity (even renewable), staff transport to get to work and air travel required for business.
Infomaniak is MyClimate-certified and has been for over 10 years. This Swiss non-profit foundation was set up in 2002 at the EPFZ Engineering School to provide comprehensive climate protection services.
As a green web host, Infomaniak is currently offsetting the carbon it produces by supporting a CO2 storage project in a forest reserve in the Swiss canton of Jura (Vallon de Soulce, Undervilier). This involves no longer using the wood from this reserve. The resulting wood biomass stores CO2 and reduces its concentration in the air. What’s more, by no longer harvesting the wood, habitats can be created for endangered species.
Strive to cut and optimise energy consumption
Since 2013, Infomaniak has had a dedicated member of staff whose main task is to manage the company’s energy use. Their aim is to constantly improve Infomaniak’s energy performance and develop its environmental goals:
- Infomaniak has been ISO 50001-certified since 2015, for its energy management
- Energy use is strictly monitored in datacenters and staff work spaces (see section on datacenters)
- Infomaniak won the SIG “2016 Négawatt Prize”,for cutting its annual electricity usage by 20%
Use electrical power produced exclusively from renewable sources
Electrical power used by Infomaniak to run its datacenters and offices comprises:
- 60% hydro power (“TÜV SÜD EE01”-certified) and 40% renewable energy (“Naturemade Star”-certified)
- Target: By 2025, Infomaniak will power all its facilities with electricity from renewable sources (“Naturemade”-certified)
Infomaniak electricity generators to be part of the Swissgrid electricity regulation market
The company’s electricity generators and datacenters are now part of the Swissgrid electricity regulation market. By making its facilities available (during essential monthly checks to ensure they are operating properly) and by feeding into the local Swiss power grid, Infomaniak is helping to stabilise the Swiss grid and boost the efficiency of power generation infrastructure.