- May 31, 2016
Thank you Aaron Swartz.
Aaron was a computer programmer / political activist from the US, he was motivated to change the world in a way that would benefit everyone. He was not someone who wanted to profit from anything. He was selfless and he died due to the fact he was facing 35 years in prison for trying to help people gain access to articles/documents/research that he (and many millions of others) believed should be in the public domain, primarily because the research often was publicly funded and the money generated were funding the large publishing companies that owned the copyright and not the scientists or writers that created the works.
Those same articles would later help Jack Andraka to create the fastest pancreatic cancer test strip (168 times faster and 26000 times less expensive than the current product), which will go on to help millions beat cancer, therefore proving that Swartz mindset was correct. Andraka “religiously” used free online academic journals in the research because “in most online databases, articles cost about $35, and there are only about 10 pages.”
The articles that Aaron was arrested for “stealing” were part of JSTOR (which many UK students will know and use), they’re basically files secured behind a pay wall that you either pay or your university pays for. Aaron was caught copying the whole database and it was rumoured he was going to make them freely available for the world. So even if you were a child in the middle of nowhere with no money and limited access to the internet you could gain access to the research.
The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations – Aaron Swartz
Aaron had a great life ahead of him and he would have made a perfect politician however the US Government decided that would never happen.
“When internet activists are getting longer prison sentences than rapists, you have to wonder what kind of world we’re leaving for our kids.” -Anonymous
“With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge — we’ll make it a thing of the past.” – Aaron Swartz
This is your life, this is your country – and if you want to keep it safe, you need to get involved.” -Aaron Swartz, 1986-2013.
This article is part of ‘Improve yourself‘ a category designed to show ways people may scam you, how companies trick you and most importantly how you can improve your life by doing something you love doing.