The Idealist: Aaron Swartz and the Rise of Free Culture on the Internet

The Idealist: Aaron Swartz and the Rise of Free Culture on the Internet

A smart, lively history of the Internet free culture movement and its larger effects on society – and the life and shocking suicide of Aaron Swartz, a founding developer of Reddit and Creative Commons-fromSlate correspondent Justin Peters. Aaron Swartz was a zealous young advocate for the free exchange of information and creative content online. He committed suicide in 2013 after being indicted by the government for illegally downloading millions of academic articles from a non-profit online database. From the age of fifteen, when Swartz, a computer prodigy, worked with Lawrence Lessig to launch Creative Commons, to his years as a fighter for copyright reform and open information, to his work leading the protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act, to his posthumous status as a cultural icon. Justin Peters examines Swartz’s life in the context of 200 years of struggle over the control of information. The Idealistsituates Swartz in the context of other “data moralists” past and present, from lexicographer Noah Webster to eBook pioneer Michael Hart to NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden. Peters also breaks down the government’s case against Swartz and explains how federally funded academic research came to be considered private property, and downloading that material in bulk came to be considered a federal crime. An essential look at the impact of the free culture movement on our daily lives and on generations to come.

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