A Trip Down Memory Lane With John Perry Barlow For Mondo 2000

RU Sirius, over at the newly revamped Mondo 2000 asked Lisa Rein if she would write a few words about her memories of hanging out and working with John Perry Barlow, who gave her very thoughtful and enthusiastic advice on all three of her “life’s work” archival projects. (That is, her projects of cataloguing and explaining the lives of Dr. Timothy Leary, Aaron Swartz, and Chelsea Manning.)

John Perry Barlow Through the Lens of Lisa Rein’s Archival Memories

From the piece:

We didn’t realize it, but John Perry Barlow really identified with Aaron and was greatly inspired by him. Barlow showed up at Aaron’s San Francisco memorial and read a short prepared statement, the first in a large collection of many other folks who were not part of the “official memorial.” (Brewster and I had so many requests from people that wanted to speak, we figured we’d better open it up afterwards to give people a chance to share their stories.)

It was in part due to John Perry’s words that night that Brewster and I realized we needed to have an Aaron Swartz-inspired celebration every year, to harness the sad energy into something constructive and positive that could reach out and protect future generations of precocious youth.

Here is John Perry’s speech from the San Francisco memorial:

“I will be brief. My name is John Perry Barlow, and Aaron Swartz was the embodiment and the apotheosis of everything I’ve stood for for the last 25 years. And it is paradoxical that even though that is true, and even though he was profoundly involved with most of my best friends and greatest heroes, I spent almost all the time I ever spent with him, one afternoon in, I think 1996, when he really was a very little kid.

I had been asked by the Headmaster of Northshore Country Day to come and speak to the middle school. And, for some reason, there was this 10 to 11 year old that was among the middle schoolers.

And I spent the afternoon —- and this was a time when I don’t think there were that many people that felt the way I did about this stuff — most of them are in this room now… and I was promoting the idea that we could make a world where anybody anywhere could give his thirst for knowledge and curiosity everything that it wanted to know, and that anybody could know as much as any human being knew about anything in the future.

And, he didn’t say much. He was extremely memorable however. He was much younger. He was all eyes and mind and spiritual radiance, in a way. And I scarcely saw him again.”

Read the rest here.

John Perry Barlow Has Left Us Meat Space Folks Behind

We will be remembering John Perry for quite a while, as he was an Aaron Swartz Day advisor and a good friend to this community.

John Perry Barlow (October 3, 1947 – February 6, 2018)

John Perry only met Aaron once, when Aaron was twelve years old. John Perry describes it here.

(Although you often see he and Aaron together in this famous photograph, which of course, was taken much later.)



The Freedom of the Press Foundation, of which John Perry was a co-founder, has written this piece.

Here’s the EFF’s post, written by Cindy Cohn.

ArsTechnica’s Cyrus Farivar covered it here.

John Perry Barlow Recalls A 12 year-old Aaron Swartz

aaron and john

Although you often see John Perry Barlow sitting behind Aaron in the famous photograph by Daniel J. Sieradski, above, the two of them never actually met each other.

From John Perry on November 8, 2014: “Correction! Aaron and I met and met heavily… But primarily on that one day. We were casual friends later but I think he never got over the initial awe enough to relax and really tell me what happened that day. But he did tell his father.”

John Perry walked up to the front of the room at the very beginning of the “open mic” segment at the end of Aaron’s San Francisco memorial, and explained that they had actually met before, sort-of, many years earlier, when  John Perry came to talk to his school one day, whe Aaron was 11 or 12 years old.

When John Perry ran into Aaron’s father, Robert Swartz, after he had accepted Aaron’s Internet Hall of Fame award last year, he asked if he thought he’d had made an impression on Aaron that day?

Robert replied that he most certainly had.

The rest, as they say, is history.

John Perry Barlow’s speech during “open mic” portion of the San Francisco Memorial, January 24, 2013:

Aaron Swartz was the embodiment and apotheosis of everything that I’ve stood for for the last 25 years, and it is paradoxical that even though that was true, and even though he was profoundly involved with most of my best friends and greatest heroes, I spent almost all the time that I ever spent with him, one afternoon in, I think, 1996, when he really was a very little kid.

I’d been asked by the headmaster of Northshore Country Day to come and speak to the middle school, and, for some reason, there was this 10 or 11 year old that was in among the middle schoolers. And I spent the afternoon – this was a time when, I don’t think there were that many people who felt the way I did about this stuff. Most of them are in this room now. And I was promoting the idea that we could make a world where anybody anywhere could give his thirst for knowledge and his curiosity everything that it wanted to know. And *anybody* could know as much as any human being knew about any thing, in the future. He didn’t say much. He was extremely memorable, however. He was much younger. He was all eyes, and mind, and…spiritual radiance, in a way. And I scarcely saw him again.

But years later… Last year, at one point, when I was with a bunch of copyright barons in Paris at the EG8, and they were all talking about how enforcement and education was gonna come out right, and it was gonna be just like the War on some Drugs. And I happened to be on a panel with these guys. I said “you know, you think you’ve won this thing, or you will win this thing. But the truth is that you’ve turned a whole generation into an electronic Hezbollah. And you will be dead when they are alive. And I was thinking of Aaron Swartz and it’s really very difficult for me to see that he is dead, and they are alive. But he is not dead, and they will be.


Historical notes:

  1. This was originally republished on November 8, 2016, and republished on February 8, 2018.

2. This post used to say “EFF and Freedom of the Press co-founder John Perry Barlow will be appearing with Freedom of the Press co-founder and executive director Trevor Timm, and Brian Knappenberger, Director of “The Internet’s Own Boy,” for a Q & A with the audience at tonight’s Aaron Swartz Day celebration.” at the top :)

Ben Swartz Writes A Few Words About Aaron

Aaron, 5 years later

by Ben Swartz

From the post:

The last time I ever saw Aaron face to face was Thanksgiving 2012. He wasn’t upset that I was working at Google, he was upset that I wasn’t using my power as a Google employee to effect change. As we talked over the phone after Thanksgiving it was clear that he was proud of me.

Every year, on the anniversary of his death, I spend the day reflecting on Aaron. I reread old blog posts, watch old videos, and read articles. One video I always watch is his Freedom To Connect Speech “How we stopped SOPA”. One especially powerful quote from it is:

It wasn't a dream or a nightmare, it was all very real. And it will happen again. Sure, it will have yet another name and maybe a different excuse and probably do its damage in a different way. But make no mistake the enemies of the freedom to connect have not disappeared...If we let them persuade us we didn't actually make a difference. If we start seeing it as someone else's responsibility to do this work and it's our job just to go home and pop some popcorn and curl up on the couch to watch Transformers, well then next time, they might just win."

In 2017, I had the privilege to respond to this quote exactly. I worked to make sure that Twitch had a response for the Net Neutrality Day of Action.

Working on the project was exhilarating yet exhausting. I felt amazing writing code that I knew would make the world a better place. I felt good when I finally convinced people that we needed to do this. But every time I ran into bureaucratic problems, I felt crushed. Every time I ran into a bug, I felt hopeless. I felt the weight of the entire internet on my shoulders–I felt that if I failed, I would be flattened.

I can only start to imagine how Aaron felt every day fighting for the things he fought for. Hopefully, by giving back even a tiny amount, I’ve made a difference that he would have been proud of.

Read the whole thing here: Aaron, 5 years later.


Chelsea Manning Is Running For A Senate Seat In Maryland!

Update January 19, 2018 – Read Chelsea’s first interview since her announcement here.

Here’s Chelsea’s video about her candidacy:

You can donate here!

All she has said about it so far are these tweets:


Don’t Be Fooled By the Bogus – “Open Internet Preservation Act” – Which does the opposite it claims

Congress’ latest bait and switch tactic regarding Net Neutrality is called the “Open Internet Preservation Act ,” which pretty much does the opposite that the title suggests.

This legislation will kill Net Neutrality for good and even prohibit states from having their own legal protections (against such unfair practices as throttling the speed on websites that can’t pay additional fees).

Keep calling your congress critters every day on the Senate Hotline: (202) 224-3121, put the code on your site from BattleForTheNet.com, and keep the fight going through to the next year!

Here’s the scoreboard showing all the members of congress and where they stand on this issue.

To catch you up a bit:  At this point, the FCC vote has happened. That means that the Title II-regulated Net Neutrality is dead. But Congress could use the Congressional Review Act to pass a Resolution of Disapproval, overriding the vote.  But instead, Marsha Blackburn has introduced legislation that will kill the Title II qualification for good and legalize throttling internet speeds, calling it the “Open Internet Preservation Act,” like a bad Orwellian parody of itself.

During the holidays, right now, is when these tricky dickies like to push through especially appalling legislation that would never fly when everyone is paying attention. We’ve done a pretty good job of keeping the pressure on Congress right now despite the holidays, so all we have to do is keep up our momentum :-)

To put code on your site and join in the fight, go to BattleForTheNet.com


The Republican net neutrality bill doesn’t save net neutrality“, By Adi Robertson, For The Verge, https://www.theverge.com/2017/12/19/16797778/congress-open-internet-preservation-act-marsha-blackburn-net-neutrality-bill


Chelsea Manning’s Statement for Aaron Swartz Day 2017

Chelsea Manning Turns 30 today!

Happy Birthday Chelsea!


“You don’t have to engage in direct action to support those who do.” – Chelsea E. Manning.

Here is a transcription of her statement from this year’s event! :-)

Video available here at the Internet Archive.

Well hello.

Here I am.

So, I see things have changed a little bit since last year. Since I was last out and about in the world.

First off, I’ve “spoken” – actually I’ve had two statements read at this event in the past (2015) (2016), and that’s a little different — I’m actually here.

I want to talk a little bit about where we are today. What we’re looking at and what we’re dealing with.

Because I’ve been out and about for a few months, I’ve obviously seen the sights and I see what’s going on. There’s a lot that’s changed. There’s Nazis and KKK running around. :-( (I don’t remember that being a big deal, whenever I was out.)

So, I think it’s really important to remember – especially at a time like this – that institutions – the institutions we depend on. Institutions that matter to us. Institutions that make decisions over us. Whether it’s a large corporation or a criminal justice system or media entities or whatever, like these large institutions can and they regularly do fail, and I think it’s important to recognize that sometimes institutions don’t work. And when they don’t work, you can’t ask them to work again. You know? You just can’t.

So, what we’re seeing today, I think, is more institutions that are depending on secrecy. More institutions that are depending on cracking down on any forms of dissent or disagreement or even just a hint of potential threat to them. And all of this is surrounded by this notion of power. Institutions have power. They have the ability to make decisions over our lives, and they’ve kind of rigged the systems.

The ways in which we engage in public. The ways in which we engage with our institutions – they are usually very administrative. Like you go to your ballot box and you have an election, or you have a procedure, or an administrative complaint, or a redress request, or something like that. And also, there’s a lot of compromise that happens between institutions and us. And a lot of us end up asking the question “well, you know, this really sucks” you know, “this isn’t working. Maybe somebody should do something about this?”

And I think that’s a really important moment that happens in each and every one of us. Is that moment where it’s like “this isn’t working, but what can I do?” I get asked a lot: “What can I do?” And, I think it’s really important to remember that whenever systems fail, and whenever institutions don’t work, you do have agency. You do have power. And every single person who’s spoken today introduces us to different ways in which we can engage with power and which we can actually have a forceable impact to have the political agency beyond what we see. Beyond the ballot box. There’s more to politics than just elections or court orders or requests or lawsuits. There’s so much more.

I look at the various forms of direct action as an answer to that process. Whether it’s…I engage in a form of direction but it’s different than another form. We all have different ways in which we can engage in political agency, and together as a collective group of people. We have power and we have the ability to make decisions, and we have the ability to make that be known, even whenever institutions ask us not to. Or tell us not to, forcefully.

I look at how each and every one of us has power. Once of the most inspiring moments I’ve seen since I’ve been out is when I watched as a group of people taking down a Confederate statue in Durham, North Carolina, and I found that inspiring. I found that powerful. I relate to that. I feel like that’s very similar. It feels empowering.

We don’t have to engage in direct action. We don’t all have to do these things. We can also support each other and we can support people who do the right thing or make a decision and end up in trouble or whether its facing getting fired or getting prosecuted or going to prison. We can provide support for people. You don’t have to engage in direct action to support those who do.

Prisoner support works. I was a prisoner for seven years. Lisa, she supported me when I was in prison. Lisa Rein. I’ve had many many many hours on the phone with Lisa, and she helped me in times when I was troubled. When I was alone. Whenever I was doubting myself. Whenever I felt I wasn’t being heard or whenever I felt I was being forgotten. And she was there. And she would sometimes pick up the phone in the supermarket. Or pick up the phone, ya know, while running. Or like, as she’s doing live things. So, she was there for me, and that support really mattered.

We can write letters. We can give inmates money for commissary or for legal defense. We can show our solidarity. We can show up to court hearings. We can write petitions. We can actively do things to help people that do place themselves at risk against their institutions. And it’s really important remind people that have been in positions like we have that we’re not forgotten cause it’s really easy to feel like we’re forgotten sometimes.

On a more positive note for the future though. I think it’s really important to remember that we live in a time where we don’t need leaders to tell us what to do, or to guide us in a time like this. I think we need each other. I lean upon people that are closest to me. I learned this in prison that the people closest to you are the people that matter the most. I looked to them when the prison staff was treating me awfully. Or, just as much as I could reach out to Lisa, I had my prison friends across the table from me. Or down the hall. Or in the cell two doors down that I could reach out to. We worked together. We can depend on each other. We needed each other.

That works out here as well. We need each other. We know what our communities need. Each one of us knows what our community needs. Someone that’s way up upon high that makes decisions doesn’t know what our community needs.

I also think it’s important to remember – especially because I’m told a lot: “You really give me hope.”

I don’t give anybody hope. Hope is not something that anyone can give to you. Nobody can give you hope. Hope is something that you already have. You just have to find it, and we have to help each other find it. Nobody gave me hope when I was in prison. I had to find it. I found it and it got me through. And the support helped me find it.

It’s really important to remember that we do have this. “We got this” – that’s a hashtag that I use very frequently on my Twitter, and it actually comes from a phrase that I said many many times to Lisa, whenever we were having troubled moments over the phone. Whenever she was helping me. Even whenever it looked like… Cause ya know, I didn’t think this would happen. I didn’t think I’d be standing here today. I really didn’t. We had moments when neither of us did. But, she worked so hard.

And and one of the things that we used to say was “We got this. We got this.” Even whenever it didn’t look like we did. And I think it’s real important to remember that sometimes, even whenever it looks like you don’t have it, you really do. And so we got this. Thank you Lisa. Thank you everyone. It’s very powerful for me to be here tonight.

Time To Drop Everything NOW and Save the Internet!

December 16 UPDATE:

Read this by Evan Greer in the Huffington post about what to do next: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/we-can-get-the-fccs-decision-to-kill-net-neutrality_us_5a32df48e4b02bd1c8c60545

The FCC just voted to repeal all existing net neutrality protections. They are giving giant ISPs like Verizon and Comcast the power to control what we can see and do online with new fees, throttling, and censorship. This will ruin the fundamentally open nature of the internet. This fight isn’t over, though. There is still a clear path to victory.

The organizations behind Battle For The Net are launching a new campaign to demand that Congress step in and restore net neutrality via the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The CRA lets elected officials in Congress overrule actions taken by Federal agencies like the FCC. And it’s different from a normal bill because it only requires a simple majority in the Senate and House to pass.


This is it guys! The FCC plans to kill net neutrality this Thursday.

Explanation below – if you’re in a hurry and already know why, here’s what to do/everything you need to “Break the Internet” for the 48 hours before the FCC vote here: https://www.breaktheinternetprotest.org


1) Add Widgets to your websites and apps, send a push notification or drive action using our widgets and banners.

2) Change your icon on Twitter, Facebook and everwhere and use <–this one

3) Change your Facebook relationship status to “Married” (to net neutrality) and add a comment linking to BattleForTheNet.com

4) Add a new “job” on LinkedIn: “Defending Net Neutrality at BattleForTheNet.com” and make sure you’ve got the “notify people when my profile changes” setting on.

5) Change your Twitter and Instagram featured website to BattleForTheNet.com and post frequently using the content.

6) Tweet stuff all day about saving the internet!

This is a watershed moment. What we do (or don’t do) between now and the vote could determine the fate of the Internet. We’re planning a mass online protest called “Break the Internet” today.

If enough of us participate, we can spark a political crisis for Congress and force them to step in and stop the FCC vote or overturn it.

The Internet is rising up in protest. Major sites like Tumblr, Reddit, Kickstarter, Etsy, and Mozilla are joining – but we can’t do it with just them! This is going to require all of us to buckle down for the next 48 hours.

We have a chance, if we all work together.

So! There’s no time for petitions now. The entire Internet needs to come together and get creative to create the kind of moment we need to stop the FCC from handing Comcast and Verizon the power to control what we can do online with censorship, throttling, and new fees.

We’ve got a plan that EVERYONE can use to sound the alarm and drive a flood of net neutrality action to Congress before the vote.


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Recap Post 1: Putting it all together – Aaron Swartz Day 2017

These posts are going to take you through the events panels and speakers, and the topics they cover, one by one, and…. bit by bit.

I just had to take a couple days and figure out a way to present this stuff in an organized fashion – I’ve started an INDEX HERE.

The idea is not only to have clear indexes everywhere, so you can’t possibly miss anything. But also to have all the content properly tagged and described so you can just skip over the parts you don’t need right now (but may need later)!

OR – and here’s the thing: more importantly, if you are running a company or organization, you can get the information you need to the right person – quickly, by simply sharing on of these lovely URLs that will contain 1) link to video clip 2) full or partial transcription 3) updates on the project and anything else that’s important to know (since the hackathon happened on November 4-5, 2017).

This year’s program turned out to be so amazing! People flew in from all over the world. I felt a strong wave of cautious optimism that we may have finally taken the first positive step towards “fixing stuff.”

Everybody that participated really gave their all and polished their projects down to the last detail.

Alas, the webcast could have been better and I’m really sorry for that. It was a combination of factors and I’m actually going to write about it because I think what I learned might help other beginners. But the most important thing is that I will make up for it by making all the clips available – on both the Internet Archive and YouTube.

There are so many clips and we are just generating them and uploading them as fast as we can. Sorry for the hold up :) !

I will keep putting up more clips every day :-)


November 4-5, 2017