Tuesday, December 02, 2014

The Internet's Own Boy, Aaron Swartz

I watched an amazing documentary last night on an American programmer, internet prodigy, and political activist, Aaron Swartz.  It was one of the more riveting docs I've seen in a while.  Aaron Swartz, although unknown to me, was on the same level as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, etc.  Although I felt, he may have been smarter than either of them. Swartz, however, wasn't solely motivated by money, ego, and commercial success as I tend to think of Jobs and Gates.  I'm not saying that that is a bad thing, depending upon the circumstances, as I can appreciate and enjoy computers and how they've enhanced our lives, and so forth.  Yet at the same time I've read some things about Jobs, and I'd assume Gates as well, that would put them under some harsh lights as far as their personality, ego, and business dealings would go.  Being a outsider, it's hard to get a truthful picture of some of these things anyway.

Back to Aaron Swartz though.  The doc is pretty amazing in that I'm amazed at people with high IQs and how they apply them so well.  The thing I liked about Swartz also was that he wasn't totally motivated by money or greed.  He could see social injustices and tried to correct them, something that got him in trouble with the government.  The government eventually brought him up on charges, although it was not proven and an allegation, however, the money is always in their court, along with the law, so to speak, in some cases, you are guilty until proven innocent.  It's a shame.  It's a shame that our government can't think more outside the box, be more intelligent in their handling of matters, be less bureaucratic, more transparent, less corrupt, but I guess we are talking about the real world.  The film did make me angry in the end, and is one of the reasons I'm not always so quick to be so flag-wavingly patriotic about our nation.

On a lighter note, here's a long Jack Kirby interview conducted by The Comics Journal, Gary Groth.

You can read it here: http://www.tcj.com/jack-kirby-interview/


At 12:26 PM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

They do seem to have overreacted to Swartz' hacking. Suicide was an overreaction too, of course, especially while the outcome of the case was in doubt.

Some pretty big holes have been eaten in the Bill of Rights over the years. The courts routinely interpret "Congress shall make no law..." to mean "Congress shall make some laws," something only lawyers could do. Other protections are also obviated by legal sophistry. Civil Forfeiture (in which property can be seized without ever charging the owner with a crime) is one example in which the burden of proof is explicitly reversed; this is possible because of the legal fiction that the charge is against an inanimate object (which has no rights) instead of a person, even though the owner plainly is being penalized. Authorities can use Civil Forfeiture to seize your property without ever charging you with a crime. In order to get it back it is up to you to prove you didn't know (for instance) that the neighbor who borrowed your seized car would use it to buy drugs, or that the tenant in your seized two-family cooked meth in the kitchen. Proving a negative is always a fun task.

At 1:03 PM, Blogger El Vox said...

This is true Richard. Of course it's hard to get the full story from just seeing the film or even reading a book or several books for that matter. Though just from seeing the doc it seem he was screwed over pretty well, and as the film said, he was the type guy who crumbled under pressure, and they certainly know how to do that.

At one time, I'm pretty sure he was worth at least a million plus, and the court system bled that dry, and started to bleed some of his parents savings as well, which I'm pretty sure, he did not want to happen. I think they used him as an example & scapegoat for other recent hackers activities ie. Edward Snowden, etc., which I can sort of understand, being cautious, scared, and preventative, but I thought they out stepped their bounds, and had a hardcore prosecutor trying to make a name for himself.

I do wonder what motivated Snowden (there's a new doc on him as well called Citizenfour Now, I believe) and others of his ilk. He wants us to believe that his motives are altruistic, but I don't know if he's just naive or otherwise. Like one of my friends said, you'd be crazy to do something like that as you know they're going to come after/prosecute/kill you. Play with fire...

Now corporations have individual rights, due to a new law change, I forget where I read that & the ramifications of that and what it alluded to: taxes, copyrights, ? But it's a changing of the laws to suit the $$$.


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