July 10, 2014

I didn't know Aaron Swartz, but I knew some of his friends -- and of course I knew all about his work. It was hard to be an online activist and not cross paths with him somewhere: Creative Commons, Demand Progress, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and so on. Everyone knew Aaron was the David who helped slay SOPA and saved the internet.

And so, even though I didn't know him personally, I cried the day he died. I just couldn't believe he was gone. He was so young, he still had so much left to do! But thanks to an overzealous federal prosecutor who pushed him over the edge, and an administration who really (when you get right down to it) doesn't understand the internet at all, and sees it mainly as a threat, Aaron hung himself.

There are still people who see the internet as a mere tool, and want to impose the standards of the marketplace on its culture. I remember how baffled the press was about Creative Commons: You want to give your work away? For free? And we'd say, no, we want to share it. If the internet is about anything, it's sharing knowledge.

Either you get the internet, or you don't.

So Brian Knappenberger just released this documentary about Aaron, called "The Internet's Own Boy: The Life and Legacy of Aaron Swartz." You should watch it, because you probably don't know why we should all be so grateful to him.

And because the people who worked on this film do get the internet, you can watch it on YouTube, Viveo, Amazon, Comcast, and a bunch of places -- some of them free. Just Google it.

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