Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Aaron Swartz (1986-2013)

Everyone who works on or uses the Internet (including yours truly) owes a lot to this man. Today was his funeral.

In 2010 and 2011, Aaron Swartz downloaded a lot of academic documents from JSTOR (the online library of scholarly articles) with the intent to distribute them because he believed more information in more hands would make the world a better place. A noble idea, but the Department of Justice decided to make an example of him. Aaron faced 35 years in jail and $1 million in fines before he decided to commit suicide. Watch this moving talk from 2012 about how he helped stopped COICA and SOPA, two congressional bills that would have essentially created a great American firewall and made it easy to censor the Internet.

Writer and internet advocate Mischa Nachtigal has provided the above content, and has also furnished time-coded highlights of his friend's testimony. If you have 23 minutes to spare, if you use the internet (kinda like you are now), and you prefer that the government not be in your business any more than it absolutely has to, you owe it to Aaron, to Mischa, to say nothing of yourself, to give ear to listen.

Thanks, Mischa. Rest in peace, Aaron.

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