21 February 2013
Doing what is right, or following Aaron Swartz' example
Please watch this lecture by Lawrence Lessig on Aaron's Laws - Law and Justice in the Digital Age.
It is a really moving address about our obligation to try to do what is right for humanity.
It is about the need to reform dumb law.
It is about how we can honour Aaron's legacy.
It is about Aaron's form of civil disobedience and whether he actually caused any real harm.
It is about celebrating his hacking activity to advance the public good.
It addresses Aaron's pursuit of social justice and his fight against corruption.
It is about the absurdity of our continuous promotion of the knowledge elite who have privileged access to publicly funded research through their membership of "elite institutions".
It is about publishers selling access to research that is funded by governments.
And it is also about those who have not so much access to this knowledge.
It is about Aaron's Guerilla Open Access Manifesto.
It is about whether Aaron's crime was to hoard vast amounts of research material that he downloaded from JSTOR at MIT; or whether he wanted to use it for research purposes; or whether he wanted to liberate it for the Third World; or whether he wanted to liberate it for the whole world.
It is about what real harm can be cause by computer crime in cyber-space.
It is about a government bullying an individual and playing the example justice game in their disproportionate response to his "crimes".
It is about what we should do under unjust laws when the remedy is worse than the evil (apologies to Henry David Thoreau).
It is about recognising the cause of corruption and fixing the system.
And it is about fixing the obliviousness of our daily lives when we work within such systems and laws.