The Internet's Own Boy

I like to think of myself as well informed, but in talking with other audience members after we exited the press screening of this wonderful (and tragic) story, we realized how much we did NOT know!

"The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz" is the full name of this US sponsored documentary. It is a tribute to Aaron Swartz, who championed open sourcing (he helped develop the basic Internet protocol RSS and co-founded Reddit) and believed in social justice, but committed suicide in 2013.

Our 2014 Seattle International Film Festival press screening audience was riveted by this compelling story about a highly principled young man who wanted to make the world a better place. Aaron is a happy, articulate fellow in news clips, a bubbly little guy in home movies and a hero in personal interviews with friends, colleagues and lovers. He was a programming protégé (attending national conferences by age 14) and an information activist.

Governmental agencies, already guilty of condoning abuses perpetrated by the big banks, wanted to demonstrate their diligence by prosecuting this young man. Aaron Swartz believed public information should be public, not locked up by for-profit agencies. He believed intellectual property, developed at tax payers' expense, should not be locked up by publicly funded institutions like MIT, and only made available to potential users for a fee to a for-profit company. The Obama Administration used the "Terms and Conditions" fine print for Internet use to charge him with seven felonies.

I know, I know, that paragraph needs to be re-read several times. It would be easier to go see the movie. I can't possibly convey all the important information we learned in this logical, lucid and important documentary.

My own personal take: My friends, if those "Terms and Conditions" are enforced, we are ALL lawbreakers. These only come into play when government has nothing else to use.
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