Complete transcript of interview with Eben Moglen: The Encryption Wars, Part I:

“One is, how long does it take the current user base to get to free software, and the other is how long does it take the current user base to be replaced by another user base. It’s a transitional issue. In 1979, when I was working at IBM, I wrote an internal memo lambasting the Apple Lisa, which was Apple’s first attempt to adapt Xerox PARC technology, the graphical user interface, into a desktop PC. I was then working on the development of APL2, a nested array, algorithmic, symbolic language, and I was committed to the idea that what we were doing with computers was making languages that were better than natural languages for procedural thought. The idea was to do for whole ranges of human thinking what mathematics has been doing for thousands of years in the quantitative arrangement of knowledge, and to help people think in more precise and clear ways. What I saw in the Xerox PARC technology was the caveman interface, you point and you grunt. A massive winding down, regressing away from language, in order to address the technological nervousness of the user. Users wanted to be infantilized, to return to a pre-linguistic condition in the using of computers, and the Xerox PARC technology’s primary advantage was that it allowed users to address computers in a pre-linguistic way. This was to my mind a terribly socially retrograde thing to do, and I have not changed my mind about that. I lost that war in the early 1980s, went to law school, got a history PHD, did other things, because the fundamental turn in the technology – which we see represented in its most technologically degenerate form, which is Windows, the really crippled version. I mean, I use Xwindows every day on my free-software PCs; I have nothing against a windowing environment, but it’s a windowing environment which is network transparent and which is based around the fact that inside every window there’s some dialogue to have with some linguistic entity.”

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