Reflecting on Donna and Aaron..

aaron-swartz-pic-demand-progressTrying to pinpoint my favourite aspect of Donnas class to write about is tough. Not because there was so little I enjoyed but because I found the class stimulating in making me think about Digital Humanities long after the class was over.

The most interesting aspects were the concepts of storytelling through digital media and also the time we spent looking at the late Aaron Swartz; a programming wizard, open-access activist and convicted felon.

Aaron was instrumental in the development of RSS and Creative Commons. He is lauded as an online hero for making an estimated 19 million court documents available online, an act he did not view through the linear lens of legality but through the more broad-minded view that state documents concerning state citizens which are indeed funded by those citizens should be made available to the same people.

In terms of scientific journals Aaron held a similar view. As he wrote in the “Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto”:

“The world’s entire scientific … heritage … is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations….

The Open Access Movement has fought valiantly to ensure that scientists do not sign their copyrights away but instead ensure their work is published on the Internet, under terms that allow anyone to access it.”

The ideals I was introduced to through Aaron sparked an interest in me on the topic of the Governments handling of ‘cyber-convicts’ in the US. On a medium which perpetuates freedom of thought, ideas, markets and currency there is an on-going tug-of-war happening between US (and worldwide) security services and the largely libertarian views that many founders, users and hacktivists hold for the Internet. The concept of net neutrality holds many principles that Swartz would have fought for but it is merely an idea which needs legislation in government for true worldwide implementation.


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