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Aaron Swartz: The Internet's Own Boy

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


http://youtu.be/e994x6qeUg0

The Documentary

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.


http://youtu.be/vXr-2hwTk58



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Cyril's picture

Just a remark; I think Aaron would like us to remember, though:

Just a remark; I think Aaron would like us to remember, though:

he certainly wasn't the first one taken out by the state, and he sadly wasn't the last one, either.

These guys and many other whistleblowers keep vanishing or exile themselves every year on a regular basis, interrupting or aborting their works in the middle of defending truth, just as it happens with our freedoms - we ought to keep standing and not forget the alive also :

Gwenyth Todd - Whistleblower on Planned Iran War & WW3

http://www.dailypaul.com/321601/gwenyth-todd-whistleblower-o...

A Letter from US Security Researchers Urging to End Society-Wide Surveillance

http://www.dailypaul.com/310982/a-letter-from-us-security-re...

'HTH,

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.

http://Laissez-Faire.Me/Liberty

"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

Watch this. Stop reading the

Watch this. Stop reading the comments and watch it.
If you don't have time now, bookmark it and watch it later.
Terrific documentary about an outstanding individual.

May The Swartz Be With You

http://www.justice.gov/usao/ma/meetattorney.html

WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
Remove United States District Attorney Carmen Ortiz from office for overreach in the case of Aaron Swartz.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/remove-united-stat...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHw6KXbvazs

Happy Hacking!

Cyril's picture

BUMP.

BUMP.

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.

http://Laissez-Faire.Me/Liberty

"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

Thank you for posting this! Haven't watched the vull video

yet but what I've seen so far, Aaron was an adorable and incredible child genius. It's heartbreaking. Wasn't aware that he was fighting PACER as well - that is one of the biggest government scams today. Why should we have to pay to view public court documents, even worse, why do we have to pay for "search results"? When I signed up for PACER to view court records, I had to give my name, address, date of birth, credit card. To me, it's nothing more than another tracking & data collection effort on the part of the Fed Govt with a huge revenue stream to boot.

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know Peace." - Jimi Hendrix

jrd3820's picture

You're welcome

To be honest I haven't watched the full long form documentary yet, but I have watched and listened to quite a few interviews with Knappenberger, the director. I just found the full documentary late last night, and thought I'd share right away. Enjoy when you do have time to watch it, I'm sure it includes more jaw on the ground 'wtf' type information.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
― Dr. Seuss

Cyril's picture

Memories of a semantic web working group in the early 2000s

Yeah, I remember following the progress and discussions of a semantic web working group including my friend Eric van der Vlist (xmlfr.org / dyomedea.com) and Aaron, back in the early 2000s - Eric had made a write-up of their high level design recommendations :

http://xmlfr.org/documentations/articles/010312-0001

(Eric's mailing list I had subscribed to and was contributing to, once in a while, mostly around everything XML and XSLT)

E.g., http://xmlfr.org/actualites/tech/011206-0001

I knew right from the start RSS was a winner (read: an excellent idea) and would easily find quickly a lot of enthusiastic support among web software implementors.

What a waste of human potential with Aaron dying so young.

Thank you dear state.

R.I.P., Aaron.

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.

http://Laissez-Faire.Me/Liberty

"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

Cyril's picture

Wake up America, before too late.

Wake up America, before too late.

When I tell you the scumbags who dwell in D.C. are shoving you all they can down into the grinder, I mean it.

And that's really heartbreaking, not just for you / us, but also for all of humanity's sake.

I wish I can live to see their trials by and for you, people, one day.

As for their posterity : it's already ruined.

Tell me about a bitter "consolation". :(

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.

http://Laissez-Faire.Me/Liberty

"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

I'm excited to watch this!

Thanks for being on the ball, Jen/ny. Here's Reason Magazine's short but sweet Knappenberger interview for those not ready to commit to the longer stuff. The Engadget interview should be good to fall asleep to tonight. Tomorrow the full monty!

http://youtu.be/0MUjdc3KIYA

jrd3820's picture

Know what I do sometimes?

When big news stories such as the Aaron Swartz story break; I don’t pay attention for a while. Because when stories like this break, and the Malayasian plane, and the Boston Bombing and so and so forth….when they break no one knows what the hell they are talking about. No news station gets it right, they make stuff up to get viewers. No stories match up. Nothing makes sense. It’s all hyperbole. I wait a while, and then go through everything I can, or wait until stories are finally condensed and abridged. I didn’t read much or watch much about Aaron Swartz until recently. I mean, I knew his name, I knew that he was an internet pioneer and I knew he had a suspicious suicide. That was about it. A few days ago I read an article with the Knoppenberger guy so I read a few more and then started diving into this story. I watched and listened to a few interviews with Knoppenberger. I haven’t watched the full documentary yet, probably later this weekend. But sometimes I prefer to wait until there is one or two comprehensive video’s.interviwes/books/articles like this documentary.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
― Dr. Seuss

OMG, are Michael and Samantha okay?

Whoa, and the Malaysians sound like me, a hundred years to finally figure it out, or is it some arcane geometric term? Cyril?

I saw that Reason interview three weeks ago and thought, "Cool, what a great preview! I can't wait for the documentary!" Reality... had you not posted this until July of 2015, I probably wouldn't have given it another thought for another year. If it were not for others I'd likely just space out on clouds and wither away from lack of nutrition.

I do this

With my own brain

“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.” — Albert Camus

jrd3820's picture

Yes and that is why you are Ed Ucation

And to an extent I do also, but when everyone is yelling all sorts of different things frantically, I just wait until all the hyperbolic yelling has died down before I start really getting into a story.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
― Dr. Seuss

stories are models

Built by story - building models. Perhaps stories tell us more about the story - building models than about the events on which the story is based. Just as a painting tells us more about the painter than the subject. Do you know about the storytelling triangle?

“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.” — Albert Camus

jrd3820's picture

Oh Ed, that is very poetic....Ummm..

I can't say I know much about the storytelling triangle. If you have time maybe you wouldn't mind filling me in.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
― Dr. Seuss

sure thing :)

The story telling triangle is the triangle between the story teller, the story, and the audience. Thus, there are three relationships going on: the relationship between the story teller and the story, the relationship between the audience and the story, and the relationship between the story teller and the audience. This is most important in oral story telling, especially with respect to the relationship with the story teller and the audience. But I think it still applies to the written words, it's just more subtle.

For example, even with this comment, one could pay attention to how I feel about what I am writing, how you feel about what you are reading, and how I feel about you, and how those three relationships affect what words I choose as I am laying down these lines. :)

I got these ideas from this fine lady:


http://youtu.be/1W0wjNpd44I

“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.” — Albert Camus