Aaron Swartz- Internet’s Robinhood
Aaron Swartz was a multitalented person who dabbled in area from programming, entrepreneurship, political activity, writing and internet hactivism. Although he died at a very early age Aaron Swartz has a lot of huge projects to his name which have defined internet today. Some of his biggest works include, RSS, Creative Commons, and Reddit, some of the most popular internet phenomenon. However, taking on the authorities and breaking the laws and privacy regulations landed Aaron in a lot of trouble. He was charged with data theft on multiple occasions which landed him into a lawsuit for $1 million and over three decades in prison. Unfortunately, the prosecution handling the case rejected a counter offer Aaron presented, was too much for the 26-year old to handle. He committed suicide and hanged himself in his room.
Although Aaron did not dabble in the mainstream idea of art, he tried to change the way world views knowledge and information. Aaron believed that knowledge is not something an individual or organisation should own, instead it’s the property of the common people. Most of his life’s work revolved around getting the internet community access to information.
Watchdogs.net was one of the many set ups Aaron started to transfer power to the masses. The idea behind watchdogs was simple, it allowed people to aggregate and visual data on politicians, making the people in power more sensitive and accountable to their actions.
Image Atlas was another creative and profound masterpieces Aaron came up with. The idea behind Image Atlas is fairly simple. The user searches a word and the website translates it to different languages. The translations are then searched on Google and the images displayed on the website with the respective language. The simple engine shed light on a very complicated idea: The cultural differences that language brings and the lack of neutrality in information were highlighted. Love would bring up a different theme of pictures than ishq, its Arabic translation.
Around 2006, Aaron had another successful venture of sharing expensive knowledge with the public. He downloaded the complete collection of Library of Congress’s bibliography and posted it on Open Library. This brought all the books the Congress Library contained into the reach of the common man for free. A loophope in the system assured that the library or the government couldn’t persecute Aaron as the documents were not copyright protected in the US.
I think Aaron Swartz was an inspiring and innovative young man who accomplished the greatest feat an artist can, he changed the way people looked at access and information. It takes a lot of creativity and perseverance to convince people that knowledge is their right which should not be hid behind high charges. I think Aaron was a great artist who worked to dissolve online boundaries and class system. Most of his initiatives are still up and running as well as majorly popular in the online world. Although the cruel justice system forced the artist to take his own life, his art lives on.