Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 2nd Apr 2013 21:06 UTC
In the News "Kay says that some gadgets with superficial Dynabook-like qualities, such as the iPad, have not only failed to realize the Dynabook dream, but have in some senses betrayed it. That's one of the points he makes in this interview, conducted by computer historian David Greelish, proprietor of the Classic Computing Blog and organizer of this month's Vintage Computer Festival Southeast in Atlanta (the Festival will feature a pop-up Apple museum featuring Xerox's groundbreaking Alto workstation, which Kay worked on, as well as devices which deeply reflected his influence, including the Lisa, the original Macintosh and the Newton). Kay and Greelish also discuss Kay's experiences at some of the big outfits where he's worked, including Xerox's fabled PARC labs, Apple, Disney and HP. Today, Kay continues his research about children and technology at his own organization, the Viewpoints Research Institute." A great interview with this legendary man.
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RE[9]: History
by hhas on Fri 5th Apr 2013 15:11 UTC in reply to "RE[8]: History"
hhas
Member since:
2006-11-28

I do not 'hate Linux' (at least no more than I hate any other modern technology, since they all suck in some ways). I am, however, enormously frustrated by a painfully narrow, insular FOSS/Linux community that claims to preserve and extend User Freedom while actually being utterly ineffectual - worse than useless even - at preserving and extending it outside of its own tiny self-serving clique.

FOSS/Linuxites talk a helluva lot but you hardly listen at all, at least not to anyone who doesn't already think and speak exactly the same as you. Now, I do not care if you don't listen to me personally as I seriously require a copy editor at the best of times. However, if you genuinely do care about about the millions of ordinary users out there, then you should be paying particular heed to the sound of thundering footsteps as they take to true[ish] consumer-oriented platforms like iOS and (to a lesser extent) Android. Because those people are not abandoning Freedom for Prison, but merely exchanging one Prison for another.

All the 'features' of the PC platform that the geek elite most loves - openness, flexibility, hackability, etc. - are not benefits but liabilities for the ordinary user: an endless tangle of impenetrable complexity and lethal booby-traps which are utterly beyond their resources to understand or control. And laughing at their mishaps or telling them to 'educate' themselves, which are the standard elitist response, are not only useless to them but also serves to drive them further towards exactly the sorts of corporate-controlled platforms you have such an issue with. Because for common users, unlike the geek elite, the platform itself is not their objective but merely an inconvenient stepping stone on the way to achieving their actual goals. They need and want a curated, turn-key platform that is safe and unobtrusive to use; that gets right out their way and enables them to get on with all the things they are actually interested in.

And as long as the Big Bads like Apple and Google understand this principle while FOSS/Linux misses it entirely, and as long as they deliver on just enough of the promise to keep those users satisfied while FOSS/Linux sits around with thumbs up asses whining about how the world is so evil and unfair[1], they will continue to call the shots on greater, more abstract concerns such as privacy and freedom as well.

IOW, any fule can criticize others, but it takes a degree of courage and humility, not to mention painfully rigorous honesty, to usefully criticize oneself[2]. But if the FOSS/Linux community genuinely do care about anyone other than themselves, then that is where they need to start. Because this is not a technology problem, it's a people problem. Fix yourselves, and the rest will follow. And who knows - maybe someday it'll be FOSS/Linux which births a million new Kays, and Paperts, and Engelbarts, and Bushes, and so on...:)

--

[1] Which, given the frequency of self-declared 'libertarian' types round such parts, always strikes me as very ironic, not to mention a tad hypocritical.

[2] And yes, I do try to eat my own dogfood here too. So if you think I'm being harsh on your work, you should see how I treat my own.:p

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