Borrowing the words of World Wide Web inventor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, "Hackers for Right, We Are One Down," Gabriella Coleman pays tribute to the late Aaron Swartz in a Huffingtonpost.com article, which condemns the excessive criminal prosecution of hackers and Internet activists.
Coleman, who has written extensively on the hacking community, Internet rights, and free and open source software, calls for a transformation of status quo perceptions of hackers as criminals, following Swartz's suicide: "As the public confronts the tragic loss of that astonishing hacker, who for too short of a time poured his soul into making the world a better place, who improved everyone's life who uses the Internet, maybe this time we can see a different side to hackers."
Aaron Swartz was a co-inventor of RSS feeds and co-founder of Reddit.com. He took his own life in his New York apartment last Friday, January 11, 2013, aged 26. A prominent Internet-rights activist, Swartz was facing federal charges and the possibility of a maximum fifty-year sentence for downloading millions of articles from academic journal archive, JSTOR, using a server at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Click here to read Coleman's tribute to Aaron Swartz, "Hackers for Right, We Are One Down."
Gabriella Coleman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies and Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy at McGill University. She is the author of Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking (Princeton University Press, 2012).