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About us

Muse is made by a small independent team of five people. We’re part of the tools-for-thought scene and have our roots in industrial research and the human-computer interaction world.

Team

A brief history of tools for thought

The dawn of computing as we know it today began in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s with the invention of TCP/IP via ARPA, unix at Bell Labs, and GUI operating systems at Xerox PARC. Pioneers such as J. C. R. Licklider, Doug Engelbart, and Alan Kay envisioned a future where ubiquitous networked personal computers would transform science, publishing, education. Where computing would become great tools for augmenting human intellect, both as individuals and as groups.

In the 1980s this seemed to be coming true, with Steve Jobs’ “bicycle for the mind,” the spreadsheet (still perhaps the greatest tool-for-thought ever made), Hypercard, object-oriented programming, and computers becoming commonplace in offices, schools, and homes.

But in the 90s, 2000s, and early 2010s the computing industry turned its attention to more mainstream uses: online shopping, music and video streaming, social media. While these uses are valid and valuable, many people (the members of the Muse team included) felt some disappointment in comparing what the tools-for-thought visionaries envisioned for computers in the 1970s and what we have today.

Starting in the late 2010s, “tools for thought” became a popular term again (partially thanks to the breakout success of Roam Research) and a new tools-for-thought community emerged. Product designers, academics, and computing enthusiasts believed that we could bring back some of that early spirit—that computing and the internet can support humanity in solving its toughest problems and creating inspiring art.

Tools like programmable team knowledge bases (Notion), knowledge graphs (Roam, Obsidian), spaced repetition (Anki), new programming paradigms (Dynamicland), spatial UIs (Sketch, Figma), and more give this scene commercial potential as well as academic interest.

We think that TfT is only just getting started. The possibilities are endless when we ask the question: “How can computers help us think better?”

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Made by a small independent team

Muse is made by a small team. Our priority is to make a niche, opinionated product that is focused on the needs of its customers rather than maximizing growth of our company or investor returns.

We believe in the “small giants” concept of optimizing for mojo over growth. This allows us to obsesses over details and craft, and create a product that makes a statement in addition to serving a utilitarian purpose. At the same time, we do need to be viable as a business so that the product can stick around for the long term.

While we expect to grow the team over time, we’re doing it very slowly compared to a traditional venture-backed startup. We want to be talent-dense and minimize management and communication overhead. We are an all-remote team with team members located in the US and Europe.

Our goal is for everyone who joins the team to become an owner and partner in the business. We don’t use the words “founder” or “employee” because we believe it creates a class distinction between the people who happened to be there at the start versus those that arrived later. We work hard but don’t work weekends and take plenty of vacation time, both because we believe that’s how you recharge your creative batteries and simply because it’s the kind of life we all want to lead.

We value thoughtfulness, curiosity, and a serene state of mind. We put these values into our product and into our workplace.

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Our research roots

Muse began life in the Ink & Swith research lab with a series of ethnographic studies on how creative people work, technology research on touchscreens and storage, and design research on spatial interfaces and gestures.

We spun out as a commercial entity (Muse Software, Inc) in 2019 with Ink & Switch keeping a small piece of equity. We consider ourselves part of the Ink & Switch family and the broader human-computer interaction research world.

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