The Idealist

The Idealist

Aaron Swartz and the Rise of Free Culture on the Internet

Book - 2016
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"A smart, lively history of the Internet free culture movement and its larger effects on society-- and the life and shocking suicide of Aaron Swartz, a founding developer of Reddit and Creative Commons-- from Slate correspondent Justin Peters. Aaron Swartz was a zealous young advocate for the free exchange of information and creative content online. He committed suicide in 2013 after being indicted by the government for illegally downloading millions of academic articles from a nonprofit online database. From the age of fifteen, when Swartz, a computer prodigy, worked with Lawrence Lessig to launch Creative Commons, to his years as a fighter for copyright reform and open information, to his work leading the protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), to his posthumous status as a cultural icon, Swartz's life was inextricably connected to the free culture movement. Now Justin Peters examines Swartz's life in the context of 200 years of struggle over the control of information. In vivid, accessible prose, The Idealist situates Swartz in the context of other "data moralists" past and present, from lexicographer Noah Webster to ebook pioneer Michael Hart to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. In the process, the book explores the history of copyright statutes and the public domain; examines archivists' ongoing quest to build the "library of the future"; and charts the rise of open access, copyleft, and other ideologies that have come to challenge protectionist IP policies. Peters also breaks down the government's case against Swartz and explains how we reached the point where federally funded academic research came to be considered private property, and downloading that material in bulk came to be considered a federal crime. The Idealist is an important investigation of the fate of the digital commons in an increasingly corporatized Internet, and an essential look at the impact of the free culture movement on our daily lives and on generations to come"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, NY : Scribner, 2016
Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781476767727
Characteristics: x, 337 pages ; 24 cm


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Jan 30, 2018

[This is a re-review: someone scolded me for being too harsh on this author, and in re-reading this book I found she was correct. I had read it will suffering the flu, and was hypercritical of the author for not mentioning what Swartz had discovered after downloading the Westlaw database {covered in the documentary, The Internet's Own Boy}. Sometime before that, a lawsuit had been filed against Westlaw for the fabrication of precedent-setting legal cases, i.e., someone or ones had created fictionalized legal cases online as precedents, et cetera. There was no publicity in the USA about this lawsuit - - evidently yet another national news blackout so common here - - but I read about it in the European news and there was actually ONE Canadian newspaper which had mentioned it. Of course, one could find out about it online with a bit of effort, but not in the American PuppetMedia.]
An outstanding book, accurately and fairly covering both copyright history in America and Aaron Swartz and his demise. Highly recommended, although I wished the author had mentioned how political those US Attorneys are [USAO]; e.g., Cyrus Vance, Jr., refusing to go after the banksters, yet unjustly persecuting a small, Chinese bank in NYC, the Abacus Bank; Heynmann and Carmen Ortiz never going after the banksters, yet hounding Aaron Swartz to death; Jenny Durkan being condemned by the Seattle Human Rights Commission, and her actions soundly rebuked by a federal judge, for imprisoning in solitary confinement several youths without any due process, who were clearly innocent - - and not going after the banksters!


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