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Remembering Aaron Swartz


While 58-12 is a non-partisan group and we certainly don’t aim to espouse or condone any particular set of political views, the recent developments surrounding the death of Aaron Swartz gives us cause for reflection and pause. The short version: Aaron, an prodigy who built key components on the internet in his early teens committed suicide amidst federal charges of wrongdoing, they say he committed wire fraud and worse, he says he just wanted to share information with the world (and JSTOR, whom he supposedly wronged, never even wanted to press charges). All of the details around Aaron’s death, his prosecution, and the various entities which have been either blamed or championed in the course of events are still a little fuzzy.

In our strange world, following the rules is not always ethical, and sometimes breaking them turns out to be the right thing to do. It’s hard to figure out who to blame, or how to repair damage in these circumstances. Nevertheless, there is one thing that we do know here at 58-12: we’re supporters of information being in the public domain not because it is a political position, but because it is in the public interest. Since our inception, we have always strived to fill our mission in part through the free dissemination of our work through laudable channels like Creative Commons licensing.

Stay on the lookout for some new material in this regard: after a period of hibernation in 2012, we are very excited to get back on the fast track toward using media, design, and knowledge for the public good! And in the meantime, in honor of the passing of such a bright, young, star, read up on all that has happened in the saga of Aaron Swartz, stay tuned for how this plays out, and consider donating to his favorite charity in his memory, which also happens to be one that we like too—GiveWell, a rigorous charity evaluator that ensures your dollars are being used to their maximum good out in the world.

See also:
Remembering Aaron Swartz
Aaron’s mentor and Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig’s response
Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow’s response
CNN: Prosecutor defends case against Aaron Swartz
MIT Professor Hal Abelson on his charge to review MIT’s involvement

Posted on 02/03/2013 by Jonathan Crisman

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