The Life & Legacy Of Aaron Swartz

He was an Internet pioneer and a free information advocate.

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Bob Young, right, with Aaron Swartz
Photo:Flickr Creative Commons, creativecommoners
The Life & Legacy Of Aaron Swartz
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The Life & Legacy Of Aaron Swartz

Last Friday a young man named Aaron Swartz hanged himself.

Most of us had never heard of him but in the upper echelons of the digital community, he was a legend, having helped develop the software for RSS feeds when he was 14 and having helped create the site Reddit a few years later.
 
Swartz  became an Internet activist, committed to the free flow of information. And that's eventually what got him in trouble. Swartz opposed online operations that charged users for information which, he was convinced, had already been paid for in some other way.
 
One of his last targets was JSTOR, an online warehouse of academic journal articles. 
Swartz used MIT computers to download millions of JSTOR articles. He may have been planning an analysis that showed how the research behind the articles was funded. Or he may have planned to share the articles for free.
 
What happened instead is the story we'll tell today.
 
You can join the conversation. E-mail colin@wnpr.org or Tweet us @wnprcolin.

  

Comments

E-mail from Paul

I was tempted to call in today… to criticize us all as a people for seeking to find easy solutions for complex matters, and folks to blame. My point would have been that the calls in the last day or two for the firing of the US attorney made as much sense as trying to blame the infamous Rutgers student for driving his gay roommate to commit suicide. Neat and tidy, but does not address the more complicated reality.

Did not want to risk a bad cell connection.

Anyway…. Very good show….eloquent guests…sorry I was not able to help out.

E-mail from Barry

Copying is stealing when you deprive the owner of fees he would be entitled to for letting you have a copy, otherwise the concept of intellectual property has no basis.

E-mail from Carroll

Isn't this just another way to say "hacking"? Erin might have wanted to do an interesting study that the various authors may have agreed with, but he didn't want to pay for access to the information. When I make copies of an article at the library I pay 10 cents a page; it doesn't seem unreasonable to ask for at least something when taking information electronically; there are costs involved on setting up electronic archives, correct?