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[Gnugeneration-discuss] How to honor Aaron Swartz

From: Kẏra
Subject: [Gnugeneration-discuss] How to honor Aaron Swartz
Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2013 19:32:26 -0500

I wonder if there's a way we could promote libre knowledge (which is freely licensed and in free formats) over individuals just posting links to their work.

"Posting our PDFs is all fine and good, but the real way to honor Aaron Swartz is to combat this pervasive institutional fecklessness and do everything in our power to make sure no papers ever end up behind pay walls again."

How can we promote
 * Public Library of Science, BioMed Central, and other freely licensed academic journals
 * AcaWiki and Wikiversity for collaborative summaries of and notes on books and academic papers
 * Connexions and Wikibooks as collaborative course materials and textbooks

On Sat, Jan 26, 2013 at 7:15 PM, Students for Free Culture <address@hidden> wrote:
_Rarely does the name of one person, lacking political office or seat of
power, echo across the internet so thoroughly as it did in the wake of
[Aaron Swartz's death][1]. How was the work of one person revered by so
many, from the front page of every major paper in the US, to radical
communities working against various axis of oppression?_

**Aaron Swartz recognized something. In his own words, "Information is
power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for
themselves." —[Guerilla Open Access Manifesto][2]**

[![Aaron Swartz][3]][3]

Based on an image by [Jacob Applebaum][4] via [Wikimedia][5]. [CC-BY-SA

Many of us have spent time grieving together on message boards, email
lists, and with friends. While we mourned the loss of a brilliant hero
to a [broken and backwards criminal justice system][7], an outpouring of
support for his work roared to life. Almost overnight, recognition of
the importance of his mission spread across every corner of the web.
What now?

Aaron understood that the way we experience and interact with the world
is [inseparable from the media and technology around us][8]. He knew
that only when they are [free from private ownership][9] can we hope to
harness their liberatory potential and gain control over our own lives.
He has been an invaluable force in the free software and free culture
movements, working against the privatization of information, culture,
and knowledge.

Aaron fought to tear down the walls that hide big secrets and lock up
human knowledge for the profit of the gatekeepers. The pressures which
drove him to suicide — up to 50 years in prison and $4 million in fines
— were brought against him for a victimless crime. These egregiously
harsh punishments for [releasing public domain papers][10] locked up on
JSTOR may have been due to Aaron's support of [ Private Breanna
Manning][11] and [ties to Wikileaks][12]. Either way, Aaron should have
been rewarded.

There is already far too much fear in resisting the powers that Aaron
stood up against. **We can only carry on his fight by turning this fear
into indignation, and indignation into action, just as he did.**

In efforts to carry on his work, [global hackathons][13] have been
planned in his memory; a graduate student made [a commitment to free
knowledge][14] by boycotting locked-down journals; the [Memorial JSTOR
Liberator][15] continues the task of releasing public domain documents
by crowdsourcing; [#PDFTribute][16] was started [for authors of academic
papers to share their works][17]; and Anonymous defaced the United
States Sentencing Commission website with [a video][18] threatening a
massive exposure of government secrets  in the style of WikiLeaks'
[insurance][19] [files][20].

While individual efforts are admirable, Aaron's work involved much [more
than opting out][21] of the systems he recognized as broken. He targeted
them. He aimed to uproot them. **Everything Aaron wrote, whether
vernacular or code, was free, but what he died doing was freeing the
work of others.**

There are already plenty of places to publish and share [free cultural
works][22], but this is only half of the battle. The remaining question
is how to usurp proprietary knowledge sources. The answer, then, is to
eliminate their value by taking the knowledge they amass and release it
into the world. **Our own rejection of locking up knowledge should be
taken for granted.** **To continue Aaron's work, we must create an
organized movement to take down the gatekeepers which keep hoards of
information secret and lock our cultural productions behind their























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