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Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Weekend with Eben Moglan


On the last weekend, I got a chance to interact with two eminent personalities who compete with each other in leaving their legacy in the minds of people whom they meet. While RMS is admired by thousands of people around the world including me for creating the GNU movement and for his uncompromising stand, Eben Moglan leaves his mark for his oratory skills, humbleness and humility. As I have already written about RMS in my previous blog, I believe I won't be doing justice to Eben and the few precious moments I spent with him if I didn't write about him.

There may not be many people who know Eben Moglen. Professor Eben Moglen is the professor of law and legal history at Columbia University and is the founder, Director-Counsel and Chairman of Software Freedom Law Center.He is a programmer turned lawyer.

I and a few friends got a chance to meet and interact with Eben Moglen. Eben Moglen's speech is a spontaneous overflow of words where each sentence is elaborated by real time examples that delights a listener. He listen to each and every word from a listener and involves in direct communication with the listener.He uses the dialectic approach while answering questions. Eben uses the content from the audience, elaborate it and finally contradict it to convince the audience. While doing so Eben never directly contradicts the statement of the listener, but raise his arguments one by one to make his point.

When I was a listening to one of his speeches one person in the audience asked a question that making profit is a natural human tendency and then why should someone gives their software as free. Eben answered this question by going back to the human history and how human beings emerged as a society by collaboration and co-operation. He emphasized that humanbeings also has the natural tendency to help each other. In everyday life we help each other in someway or the other and it is also a natural tendency. The answer not only convinced the audience but also carried their minds to the historical context of the emergence of human society.

I also got a chance to had my dinner with Eben and once someone remarked that human life is short and why we should live a life of sacrifices and try to improve our society. Eben said that efforts of the great visionaries in the past and our forefathers was not only for themselves, but also for the future generations. Our efforts to improve and better the human society may not yield results in our life time, but may be our future generations after 100 or 200 years may get the results. That will be the only thing that help us human beings to move forward.

Finally in the slum computing center we all sit and discussed together about the future plans and his suggestions to improve the center. Everyone was amazed by his simplicity, his vision and knowledge. A two hour long discussion was a session of open communication and we got many suggestions to improve the center. He inspired each one of us to carry forward what we were doing for the rest of our life.

Even after leaving the center and almost a week was passed, he lives in our hearts through his words and it is something that all of us will cherish in our lifetime. Of course I have disagreements with him, but that doesn't stop me from admiring Eben Moglen one of the great personalities I have ever met.
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2 comments:

greggish said...

I'm a big fan of Eben Moglen, and have watched and listened to all of his speeches that are on the web. Thank you for sharing this great story and pictures of your encounter with him.

r j varur said...

sreejith,
today i've visited your site.my interests are also the same as of yours.i also read a lot of books and periodicals-mathrubhumi,the Hindu,Bhashaposhini,ora,yukthirekha,sasthrakeralam,sasthragathi etc.Here we have no public library in our vicinity.So i am purchasing all of them.i have a good collection of popular books both in English and Malayalam.