Aaron Swartz: Persecuted Genius
I didn’t write yesterday. I don’t know why. I just didn’t. I don’t read the theses ahead of time, instead I take them one day at a time usually. Today I’m playing catch up again, and given their new context, these theses have taken on a whole meaning. So, forgive me, but I think this is relevant.
Just look at Number 11: People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors. So much for corporate rhetoric about adding value to commoditized products.
Allegedly, Aaron Swartz was arrested in 2011 for allegedly stealing over 4 million online documents from MIT and academic publishing repository JSTOR. Where does one even begin?
Aaron co-founded Reddit, created RSS and was deeply involved in opposition to attempts to SOPA and PIPA, the internet regulation and surveillance bills. He founded demandprogress.org to combat internet censorship, and was a visionary who I would have loved tow work with. Not only that, he was funny.
Aaron Swartz: Ally
It’s funny that CNN has taken liberally to prescribing Swartz as a depressive. Performing diligent propaganda duties that undermine the role that the DOJ”s Indictment obviously played. No one can say everything that can or should be said, especially in times of great peril and injustice. But it is my simple attempt to light a little vigil to the truth, and to keep his memory alive.
Aaron was genius. Is genius. His work testified to the new possibilities of information liberation. While the entrepreneurs call for disruptive startups, geniuses like Aaron Swartz are systematically reviled and ground into a legal system that is soul-crushing, isolating, and full of arbitrary exercises of power. What could possibly be more disruptive than actual disruptions? Startup gurus are often mistaken by the way they play the numbers, or attract a following. When your tech causes shifts in politics, then you’ve earned the moniker, disruptive.
My only hope is that MIT, JSTOR and the entire academic community tell the DOJ where to stick it. Because without a strong response from academics, systematic abuses of copyright law will lead to witch hunts against information activists like Aaron.
12. There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.
Aaron Swartz: Activist
The Defense’s expert witness speaks, and already citizens are outpacing the media in handling the information. There are no secrets.
Aaron allegedly acted on number 12 and was able to produce data liberation that encourages education, and fostering knowledge. That’s disruptive, it’s innovative, and it was persecuted.
The DOJ Is squarely responsible for a technological witch-hunt. Our networks know it, but whether they act will be the question.
Everything about information now depends more explicitly on its politics. Will the Academy, students, teachers and independent news media, citizens and everybody draw their line in the sand and call for enough?
One can only hope.
In Aaron’s Own Words:
There is no justice in following unjust laws. It’s time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture.
We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world. We need to take stuff that’s out of copyright and add it to the archive. We need to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerilla Open Access.
With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge — we’ll make it a thing of the past. Will you join us?
In memoriam Aaron Swartz, the funny genius, the persecuted visionary, sending karma your way.
Update: The Family Has Spoken: “Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach,” the statement read. “Decisions made by officials in the U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death.”
DOJ Persecuted Internet Activist Aaron Swartz Please watch the video at the end of this.
The Movement to Free American Case Law
The Center for the Study of Innovative Freedom Federal copyright persecution leads RSS co-author and anti-SOPA activist Aaron Swartz to kill himself