URL For Live Webcast of Saturday Night’s Event


We will be streaming the movie from 8:05 pm till 9:50 – then live       Q & A will kick back in :-)

Eddie Codel is shooting the video webcast. Tune in promptly at 7pm, November 8th! The Q & A with Director Brian Knappenberger, Trevor Timm (Freedom of the Press Foundation) and John Perry Barlow (EFF, Freedom of the Press Foundation) will be webcast too, at approximately 9:50 pm.

Mobile Phone peeps: you will need to download the UStream application after clicking on the link. (You should be prompted at the bottom of your screen when you hit the UStream website.)


Creative Commons Licenses Are An Elegant “Hack”

lisareinHow to Celebrate Aaron Swartz’s Legacy? Go to a Hackathon This Weekend

By Lisa Rein, Coordinator of Aaron Swartz Day, for Takepart.com

Remember to RSVP for tonight’s event if you want a spot. I’ve also printed a small amount of limited edition posters. (Many thanks to artist
Ryan Junell!) They will be given away to at least the first 150 people who arrive.

It’s been really hard to watch this story unfold over this last year. At first it seemed like perhaps Aaron’s actions had crossed some kind of legal or ethical boundry. However, now, after more than a year of careful analysis, the evidence suggests that Aaron most likely was not breaking any laws at all. He was just doing something innovative and unexpected. This is one of the main reasons we need to protect young innovators like Aaron from misguided government prosecution in the future.

I was Creative Commons’ first technical architect, a job I got upon meeting law school professor Lawrence Lessig at a conference in Washington D.C. in 2001. When I told him that I was an XML geek who’s obsessed with copyright law, he closed his laptop and said that he had a job for me. When he explained what that entailed—expressing licenses in RSS, a simple XML format usually used for news feed syndication—I said that it couldn’t be done, that it was too simple of a format and copyright law was too complex.

Aaron showed me a way to do it. I knew him from his online activity, so I was sure he was the right person to help me—even when I found out that he was only 15.

His viewpoint towards simplicity influenced our entire online model. We decided to create a simple deed, in non-legalese, saying what a license meant. (Our lawyers still created lengthy legal documents for each license, using existing copyright law, to cover all the legal protections we wished each license to afford.)

Our team created a web site where a person could answer a series of yes or no questions to pick a license. At last, our dance of simplicity was complete. With Aaron’s help, Creative Commons licenses have become a truly elegant hack.

EFF: Join Us This Weekend in Honoring Aaron Swartz’s Legacy by Hacking for a Better World

Join Us This Weekend in Honoring Aaron Swartz’s Legacy…by Hacking for a Better World

by April Glaser for the EFF.

April will be presenting Saturday night on the Freedom to Innovate Summit, a collaboration between EFF and the Center for Civic Media at MIT that calls upon Universities to protect students who innovate at the boundaries of the law.

From the article:

Perhaps more than anything, Aaron Swartz believed that everyone should be able to participate in the political processes that determine the laws we have to live under everyday…

But one thing that sets the Aaron Swartz Day hackathons off from the rest is that all of the projects being hacked on further Aaron’s dream of a free and open Internet and a more just world…

If you’re inspired, we encourage you to host your own hackathon or host a screening of the Internet’s Own Boy, the deeply informative film on Aaron’s work and the movement for a free and open Internet.

Together, we will continue for fight to ensure our rights go with us when we go online. We invite you, in Aaron’s honor, to join us this weekend. Hope to see you there.


Daily Dot: Aaron Swartz Day Aims To Right Legal Wrongs

Aaron Swartz Day Aims To Right Legal Wrongs

dailydotaaronby Kate Conger for the Daily Dot

From the article:

Swartz was a bright young programmer who committed suicide while facing prosecution under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Since his death came in the midst of his prosecution, it eliminated the possibility of clearing his name in court. But, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s newly-appointed executive director Cindy Cohn notes in The Internet’s Own Boy, the case against Swartz was “a poor use of prosecutorial discretion.” Aaron Swartz Day aims to raise awareness about the facts of Swartz’s case and demonstrate that the criminality of his actions—using software to download millions of academic documents from JSTOR—was questionable at best.

“Aaron doesn’t deserve to go down in history as some malicious hacker out to steal and make money from his loot somehow,” Rein said in an email to the Daily Dot. “Since there are projects like SecureDrop going strong, and policy movements aimed at protecting innovative students on college campuses, and more updates on the ongoing fight to have Aaron’s government documents released to the public, and so many people willing to do amazing projects in his honor, I decided to just try to include everything I could, and see how large it became.”


Just Added: Trevor Timm for Q & A with Brian Knappenberger After Saturday’s Event and Screening

trevor_FPFJust when I think that things couldn’t be any more exciting for Saturday Night’s event!

Trevor Timm, Freedom of the Press Foundation’s co-founder and Executive Director, has just agreed to appear with Brian Knappenberger, Director of “The Internet’s Own Boy” for  Q & A after the screening at the Internet Archive Saturday night. (Host Lisa Rein will moderate.)

Trevor writes a weekly column for The Guardian and has also contributed to The Atlantic, Al Jazeera, Foreign Policy, Harvard Law and Policy Review, PBS MediaShift, and Politico.  In 2013, he received the Hugh Hefner First Amendment Award for journalism.

SecureDrop’s Garrett Robinson Talks About Last Year’s San Francisco Aaron Swartz Day Hackathon

garrettGarrett Robinson (Lead Developer, SecureDrop) will be presenting at Aaron Swartz Day, November 8th. (Reception 6pm – Speakers 7pm sharp!)

SecureDrop is a Tor-based open source whistleblower submission platform that was originally prototyped by Aaron Swartz and Kevin Poulsen (called “DeadDrop” and later “StrongBox,” when implemented by the New Yorker. It was taken over by the Freedom of the Press Foundation in October 2013.

I had a chance to speak with Garrett Robinson briefly, and get the scoop on the ongoing relationship between the Aaron Swartz Hackathons and SecureDrop.


Please tell us more about SecureDrop at last year’s Aaron Swartz Hackathon. You mentioned that it ended up being very productive for SecureDrop’s development.


Sure. Last year’s Aaron Swartz Memorial Hackathon, in November 2013, was an incredibly exciting weekend that SecureDrop benefited immensely from. I had just accepted the offer to take the role of lead developer on SecureDrop, and so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the event. Imagine my surprise when over 30 people showed up on the first day (Saturday), and around 15 on the second! More than that, many of the people who showed up were skilled developers and committed to the cause behind the project. It was the most productive hackathon I have ever attended, let alone been a part of leading (along with Yan Zhu, Jack Singleton, and many others).


Could you explain a little about why you feel these hackathons are such a fitting tribute to Aaron?


Sure. When we took over SecureDrop, the code that we received was barely complete and very messy – just enough to express the big idea. Aaron was a visionary with an endless supply ideas, and he seemed to be constantly churning them out, prototyping them to the bare minimum, and letting others take them on, refine them, improve them. Hackathons are like that too – a constant refinement, churn.

It’s like a dozen sculptors all working on the same block of material simultaneously. It might not look exciting to a casual observer – just a lot of people typing on their laptops, drawing on whiteboards, and talking. But to a participant, there is a kind of collaborative dance going on, and it takes refined processes and care to avoid stepping on other people’s toes as you go.

There is a great satisfaction in improving some part of the project and sharing it with others, hearing the collective murmurs of appreciation at a bug fixed or a bit of workflow eased. There is also excitement in going off in new directions, and taking radical departures, seeing those ideas come to life on someone’s smudged
laptop screen. I think that energy, creativity, and the inclination to dive right in and start doing are what make these hackathons a fitting tribute for Aaron.


Last year’s Aaron Swartz Hackathon went so well that you’ve started up hackathons on a regular basis, to enable more folks to contribute?


Yes. Since the very positive experience at the first hackathon, we have continued hosting regular “hack nights” approximately biweekly, and have had several weekend-long hackathons. This is always a great time for all of the core developers to get together. We debate things, show each other the cool stuff we’ve been working on, do code reviews together, which makes them much more efficient and effective, and just joke around and socialize. We also often get newcomers or infrequent contributors, and we introduce them to the project, answer their questions, and, if they’re interested, try to find a project that they can work on.

Now that I have recently joined Freedom of the Press Foundation full time, we will be having more regular hack nights. I am also going to work hard to establish connections and follow up more quickly and thoroughly with contributors, as a way of improving and expanding SecureDrop as an open source project. All of this was in some way inspired by the initial awesome experience that we had at that Aaron Swartz hackathon back in November.

Why is having something like SecureDrop so vital in a functioning democracy? You mentioned in your talk last year (linked) about how important it is that we have what you called an “adversarial press.” Could you elaborate a bit on that please?


In our increasingly online and networked society, information is incredibly powerful. We have seen an increasing willingness to crack down on the leaking of information, especially when that information may be damaging or embarrassing to powerful people and organizations. We have seen the Obama administration’s unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers, with the most recent development being the Supreme Court’s rejection of Jame’s Risen’s appeal in United States v. Sterling, which sets the stage for him to potentially be imprisoned for refusing to testify against a source. SecureDrop is designed to protect sources and journalists, from these and other threats, to allow them to continue to provide the information that informs public debate and the democratic process.

Additionally, we hope that empowering whistleblowers and journalists has a similar counter-effect on those in power. If they cannot trust that something unethical or illegal will stay secret, they may think twice before doing it in the first place.

Remembering “Raw Thought” at Aaron Swartz Hackathon in 2013 In Buenos Aires

Aaron Swartz Hackathon 2013 at HackLab Barracas

hackaton-500x281The team at last year’s Aaron Swartz Hackathon at HackLab Barracas had a great event last year. They translated articles from Raw Thought with mates in Mexico, Guatemala, Chile and Spain, drank beer, scanned books, joined the inauguration and close of HackLab Florida, took sexy pictures, and streamed video while it all happened.

As Nicolas Reynolds, on of the Buenos Aires organizers, explains: “Last year we organized a local version of the Aaron Swartz Hackathon, teaming up with HackLab Florida, which was celebrating its inauguration that same day at Cooperativa Libertad.”

“It was a nice and quiet night.” Nicolas said. “We tested our then new book scanner and shared a few beers. For collaborative translation we used Etherpad Lite, an awesome tool to write documents while building consensus on them. Our main activity was translating selected articles from Raw Thought, Aaron’s blog, that we organized together with other hacklabs and hackerspaces from Latin America and Spain,” Nicolas elaborates. “Our favorite was “Democracia exponencial” (Aaron’s original ‘parpolity’ post in English), where he shows in numbers how an bottom-up assembly democracy would work.  It turns out that only five levels of assemblies composed by 50 people each are enough for 300 million people to self-govern!”

Nicolas and his team are hosting another Buenos Aires Aaron Swartz Hackathon this year.

Press Release – Aaron Swartz International Hackathon, November 8-9, 2014

ASDAY.Poster.Final-smNews Alert – Aaron Swartz Day and International Hackathon 12 Cities Worldwide – November 8th and 9th, 2014

Austin, Berlin, Boston, Buenos Aires, Houston, Kathmandu, Los Angeles, Oxford, Magdeburg, New York, San Francisco  and Sau Paulo (November 3, 2014) – Link to individual city pages.

Aaron Swartz Day and International Hackathon 2014, taking place on what would have been Aaron’s 28th birthday weekend November 8th and 9th, 2014. In San Francisco, The Internet Archive is hosting an entire weekend of activities.

These events are will bring together the varied communities that Aaron touched, to figure out how the important problems of the world connect, and to share the load of working on those problems.

Aaron was a visionary with an endless supply of ideas, and he seemed to be constantly churning them out, prototyping them to the bare minimum, and letting others take them on, to refine and improve them.

These hackathons are like that too, fostering constant refinement, churn, and the exchanging of knowledge and ideas. The projects at these hackathons are very diverse and widespread, but the one thing they all have in common is the desire of those behind them to make the world a better place.

Each hackathon will end with a screening of Brian Knappenberger’s documentary, “The Internet’s Own Boy,” which he released under a Creative Commons license, to enable the world to have easy access to the film and learn more about Aaron’s story.

It’s all part of this year’s theme of  “Setting the record straight.” Now that we have brought people together and shared information with each other, the smoke has cleared a bit, and we can clearly explain to the world exactly what Aaron actually did and did not do.

In addition, on the evening of November 9th, in San Francisco, CA The Internet Archive is hosting a reception, speakers, and a screening of The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz with director Brian Knappenberger live in person. Just added: Trevor Timm (co-founder Freedom of the Press Foundation) and John Perry Barlow (co-founder EFF and Freedom of the Press Foundation).

Speakers include: Dan Purcell from Aaron’s legal team, Garrett Robinson from SecureDrop, Cindy Cohn from EFF, Kevin Poulsen, Brewster Kahle, and more. http://www.aaronswartzday.org/invite/#speakers

On November 8, Pivot is airing Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz.  Check local listings.

For more information, contact:
Lisa Rein, Coordinator, Aaron Swartz Day

PDF of this Press Release