The story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz. From Swartz's help in the development of the basic internet protocol RSS to his co-founding of Reddit, his fingerprints are all over the internet. But it was Swartz's groundbreaking work in social justice and political organizing combined with his aggressive approach to information access that ensnared him in a two year legal nightmare. It was a battle that ended with the taking of his own life at the age of 26. Aaron's story touched a nerve with people far beyond the online communities in which he was a celebrity. This film is a personal story about what we lose when we are tone deaf about technology and its relationship to our civil liberties.Written by
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Unjust Laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we edeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have suceeded, or shall we transgress them at once?- Henry David Thoreau
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The tragic story of Aaron Swartz, told by those closest to him
This warm yet chilling documentary retraces the life of Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide at age 26 after a couple of years of severe and deepening pressure from the criminal justice system, which was trying him for a number of felonies resulting from his breaking into MIT's computers.
We first see him as a young kid in home movies, then as a prodigy who while very young was brimming with new ideas for the Internet and applied genius-level programming skills to co-developing RSS and Reddit. Bored with college and with working for the business establishment, he turned to activism, promoting an open Web culture for the benefit of all users.
Swartz's activism turned into hacktivism, landing him in deep trouble with the Justice Department, which charged him with crimes that could have sent him to prison for 35 years. Touching, pointed accounts from family members and close associates describe what Aaron was like and how he responded to unyielding Justice Department efforts to use him as an example.
The interviews with law professor Lawrence Lessig and World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee are unforgettably moving. The film does a good job of calling into question Swartz's harsh treatment by the same Justice Department that shied away from prosecuting the big money interests that brought down our financial system.
Whether you sympathize with Swartz or not, the film does a solid job of showing how blind justice in the U.S. can be when it wants to be.
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