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The Internet’s Own Boy

Day 42/90 – Learning about Aaron Swartz

Day 42 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I got to learn more about Aaron Swartz, his life, his work, and his legal battle.

Boston Wiki Meetup by Sage Ross

Boston Wiki Meetup by Sage Ross from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

As a social media attorney, I’m aware of Aaron Swartz’s impact on the online community, but I didn’t know much about who he was as a person or the depth or breadth of his impact on the internet until I saw The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz today.

Aaron was an incredible person – a true genius. I think a lot of people don’t realize how amazing he was. He was one of the founders of Reddit. He was a key figure in the fight against SOPA. He believed that information is power, and that access to information should not be restricted. Aaron called out Congress for trying to pass laws that would restrict access to information and who could have a voice on the internet, when one of the best things about the internet is anyone can create a platform to share their views.

Aaron was willing to make himself a target in order to make a point and to show where there are problems. I have so much respect for that type of bravery. He was arrested and charged with violating the outdated Computer Fraud and Abuse Act when he hacked the system at MIT to download academic articles. I suspect when he decided to do this, he never expected it to result in the threat of jail or $1 million in fines. Aaron killed himself prior to this case’s conclusion and subsequently, the U.S. Legislature has proposed a revision of this law called Aaron’s Law.

If you haven’t seen this film, I recommend you make it a priority to see this. Aaron’s story brings to light serious issues related to our access to information. Even though I’m an advocate for copyright rights, I’m also an advocate for access to information and education. Knowledge should not be limited to the rich.

In other awesome news, Rosie is on the mend. Her ear drops are making her much more comfortable and she’s starting to eat more, though she’s more interested in my food than hers. Hopefully we’ll have her lab test results tomorrow and we’ll know what to do to make her better.

In case you missed it: Day 41 of the 90 Days of Awesome – Rosie goes to the Vet.