Aaron Swartz: The Internet's Own BoySubmitted by jrd3820 on Fri, 07/18/2014 - 03:52
How Aaron Swartz went from Internet Activist to Martyr
By Terrence O'Brien
In 2000 Aaron Swartz was just a terrifyingly smart 14 year-old. He was a faceless name on a mailing list, quietly contributing code and copy to RSS 1.0. Roughly twelve years later, in January of 2013, he became an unfortunate casualty in an ongoing battle that pits the government and its business allies against a growing army of online activists.
Brian Knappenberger didn't know Aaron Swartz personally, but the documentarian was familiar with his story. He previously directed We are Legion, a film about Anonymous and its hacktivist associates, so he had strong ties with the community that happened to be some of Swartz' biggest supporters. After Aaron committed suicide in his Brooklyn apartment, Knappenberger began collecting reactions to the loss from friends, family and other members of the activist community. Soon he realized that he had to make a film about it, and the result is The Internet's Own Boy which hits select theaters, Google Play, iTunes and Vimeo on June 27th. The director stopped by the AOL offices last week to discuss his film and the young man at the center of it.
The truth of the matter is that Aaron Swartz didn't generate nearly as much press as he deserved while he was alive. For years he fought what he saw as an archaic and unfair system in PACER and JSTOR, repositories for court documents and academic papers. They were cumbersome, overpriced and effectively inaccessible to the general public (unless you're willing to pay an exorbitant amount of money). JSTOR decided against pressing charges, but it was ultimately those battles that put Swartz on the radar of law enforcement.
Read More Here: http://www.engadget.com/2014/06/27/aaron-swartz-documentary/
Interview with Brian Knappenberger
The film follows the story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz. From Swartz's help in the development of the basic internet protocol RSS to his co-founding of Reddit, his fingerprints are all over the internet. But it was Swartz's groundbreaking work in social justice and political organizing combined with his aggressive approach to information access that ensnared him in a two-year legal nightmare. It was a battle that ended with the taking of his own life at the age of 26. Aaron's story touched a nerve with people far beyond the online communities in which he was a celebrity. This film is a personal story about what we lose when we are tone deaf about technology and its relationship to our civil liberties.