All posts by lisa

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.

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

Zaki Manian Looks Back at Last Year’s Aaron Swartz Hackathon in San Francisco

Zaki Manian from Restore the 4th SF explained how last year’s Aaron Swartz Day and International Hackathon in San Francisco breathed life into a small Restore the 4th chapter in San Francisco. Restore the 4th sent 4 programmers to the event, and came back with 4 more. “There was an enormous surge of grassroots energy after the Snowden revelations, and Restore the 4th was an attempt to harness that energy and direct it into directions that could create real change.”

One of the main projects that Restore the Fourth SF worked on during last year’s hackathon was the “Shame on Feinstein” campaign, which called out California Senator (D) Dianne Feinstein as a staunch supporter of Mass Surveillance. (Although she came around later in June 2014, when it was revealed that her own congressional computers had been compromised in order to access the classified CIA torture report.)

The other really important element of these civil rights focused hackathons the concept of “Weekend Warrior Activism.” “These hackathons are able to tap into an incredible resource of programmers that might already code 9-5 somewhere, in order to give them the ability to work on an important project over the weekend. This allows programmers to “code for freedom” during their precious weekend hours, making “incremental changes,” much like Virgil Griffith mentioned in his talk last year.

The latest mission of Restore the Fourth mission is helping towns deal with Police Militarization. RTF was already working on these issues before Ferguson happened, but now the plan RTF had already set in motion is more timely than ever.

“Militarization of police is a hot topic of the moment. Surveillance technologies funding license plate readers and facial recog software and mass surveillance is becoming a more local issue.” Zaki explains.

“We’re working on a municipal ordinance template, via a website and national campaign, that people in small towns and cities across the country can use to evaluate and put rules constraining how the equipment already purchased is actually allowed to be used,” Zaki explained. “We’re also working on some talking points and content that people can use, to show them how to do the research to find out what surveillance is already in your town, so you can then take action at the local level.”

Complete Schedule: Aaron Swartz Day and International Hackathon Weekend – November 8-9 at the Internet Archive in San Francisco

Greetings everyone! The outpouring of interest has been incredible.

One question that keeps coming up though is: What exactly is going on at the Internet Archive in San Francisco during this activity-packed weekend?

Short answer:

1) A Hackathon is going on BOTH Saturday and Sunday, from 11am-6pm, RSVP FOR HACKATHON

2) A Saturday night event, with a movie screening, is going on from 6-10:30pm (and then on until 1:30 am at an afterparty)                     RSVP FOR EVENING EVENT

Here’s a the full schedule for the weekend, so you can plan:

Saturday November 8th – 11am-6pm – Hackathon upstairs in the Internet Archive’s Great Room – food and refreshments provided throughout the day (vegan options!) RSVP FOR HACKATHON          (It will be assumed that most hackathoners are sticking around for the evening’s activities.)

Saturday, 6pm the Reception starts for the evening event!              RSVP for EVENING EVENT

6-7pm Reception – Mingle with the speakers and “The Internet’s Own Boy” Director Brian Knappenberger

7-8pm This year’s incredible line-up of speakers will give you a fast-paced update on a number of excited Aaron-related projects and activities over the past year.

9:45pm – Q and A with Director Brian Knappenberger after the movie – also added Trevor Timm and John Perry Barlow!

10:30pm – 1:30 am Keep the conversation going at an after party going on at Pizza Orgasmica, 823 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118 (415) 386-6000 (between 10th Ave & 9th Ave), just a few blocks away from the Internet Archive.

Then! On Sunday, another Hackathon from 11am-6pm. (Food and refreshments provided.) RSVP FOR HACKATHON

Sunday’s Hackathon could be a great chance to jump in to whatever idea sprang up in your mind at the event or during the film on Saturday night. Reminder that you don’t have to be a programmer to participate in a hackathon. (Here’s a “Hackathon 101” video explaining this.)

Travelers: if you are considering traveling to SF, all you’ll need is your computer and a place to sleep from between 1:30 am Saturday night and 11 am Sunday morning, when the Internet Archive opens up for its hackathon. Food will be provided during the hackathons. There’s also food and wine at the reception, and beer and pizza at the after party (though we may run out after the first 50-75 people).

So *if you can get here and have a place to stay for Saturday night, you are good*. I didn’t want people to not participate for lack of funds, and it’s expensive enough to travel these days. So, Woo hoo! Road trip to San Francisco :-)

12 Cities Confirmed For This Year’s Aaron Swartz Hackathon

Aaron Swartz Hackathon GitHub site:

Most hackathons are November 8-9, 2014 – specific dates and locations up soon!

New! Austin! Added October 28th – Now 12 Cities!

Austin – Contact: Shanta Stevens                       (at atx hackerspace)

Berlin – Contact: Samuel Carlisle

Boston – Contact: Ali Hashmi or Adrienne Debigare   /Center for Civic Media, MIT Media Lab, Wiesenr Building, E15, Room 345, 20 Ames Street, Cambridge, MA, 02139, Nov 8, 10:00-20:00 Saturday.

Buenos Aires – Contact: Nicolas Reynolds /Aristóbulo del Valle 1851, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina. the hackathon will be held from saturday 8th, 4pm until sunday morning

Houston – Contact: Jeff Richman

Kathmandu – Contact: Shritesh Bhattarai

Los Angeles – Contact: Sterling crispin

Magdeburg – Contact: Katha or Alex   /Friday – Sunday afternoon, maybe with some breaks in the early morning. Location is our hackerspace Netz39, Leibnizstraße 32, Magdeburg, Germany.

New York City – Contact: Jared Hatch /Thoughtworks 99 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016

Oakland, CA – Contact: Phil Wolff /Sudo Room 4799 Shattuck Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

Oxford – Contact: Matt Ellen /OxHack which is inside OVADA, 14a Osney Lane, OX1 1NJ

San Francisco – Contact: Noah Swartz, /Internet Archive 300 Funston Ave, San Francisco, CA 94118


How Universities Can Lead The Way For Legal Reform and Protection of Student Innovators

This article sets out a straight forward plan for how universities can support student innovation and protect their students from unnecessary prosecution (see very bottom of this post).

Students Who Push Tech Boundaries Should Be Encouraged, Not Punished

By April Glaser for Wired

From the article:

Notably, after faculty members and students circulated an open letter, MIT President Rafael Reif announced plans to support the Tidbit innovators, and MIT sent a formal letter to New Jersey’s Attorney General, asking it to withdraw the subpoena. The open letter stated that the subpoena from the New Jersey Attorney General will have, “a chilling effect on MIT teaching and research.” Soon after, MIT faculty and MIT students wrote additional letters of support, asking New Jersey to withdraw the subpoena. Over 800 members of the MIT community signed onto these letters.

President Reif appears to get it. In response to the outcry over the Tidbit controversy, Reif announced that MIT plans to create a new legal resource for students threatened by legal challenges as a result of their innovative work and entrepreneurial pursuits. “In the case of someone creating an innovative new product and then getting into legal trouble doing something that was a part of their classwork — then, MIT absolutely does have a legal interest to be involved,” Ethan Zuckerman, director of MIT’s Center for Civic Media, told the press.

Also from the article:

Now is the time for students and campus communities that want to vitalize innovation to speak up and demand university support. There are some simple steps that universities can take to foster inventiveness in their campus communities:

1. Create a legal intake mechanism or program for students who receive subpoenas and are threatened by computer crime laws. Student innovators need to know where to go to receive help.

2. Publish a guide on CFAA and in-state computer crime laws so that students and researchers can better understand the contours of the laws that may be leveraged against them.

3. Universities should be pushing for computer crime legal reform and come out with strong institutional support for reform efforts on the federal and state level.

Just as laws are frequently outdated by the accelerated pace of technology, campus policies often lag behind in addressing the potential legal needs of their most innovative students exploring the frontiers of digital invention. Yet universities don’t have to move at the slothful pace of legal change.

SecureDrop’s Garrett Robinson and James Dolan – At Aaron Swartz Day 2013

Link to video here.

James Dolan and Garrett Robinson at Aaron Swartz Day 2013
James Dolan (left) and Garrett Robinson at Aaron Swartz Day 2013

SecureDrop is an open-source whistleblower submission system managed by Freedom of the Press Foundation that media organizations use to securely accept documents from anonymous sources. It was originally coded by the late Aaron Swartz.

The goal of SecureDrop is to simplify the process of using Tor and an airgapped computer viewing station (decrypted with a private key) to protect the identity of a whistleblower uploading documents.

(From video) Garrett Robinson:

“The impetus behind SecureDrop is that we (FPF) want to restore the balance between governments and journalists who want to communicate with anonymous sources. Historically, the U.S. has had really strong press freedoms. This is essential for a functioning democracy.”

Main page:

Project page on Github:

Form to fill out to request help with SecureDrop:

SecureDrop Development List:

SecureDrop FAQ:

SecureDrop User Manual:

Lessig Announces The MayDay PAC’s Next Move

Lessig has announced the first two candidates that MayDay PAC is supporting!

One is Staci Appel, a Democrat running for a congressional seat in Iowa.










Jim Rubens
Jim Rubens


The other is Jim Rubens, a Republican in the New Hampshire senate race.

It’s in the NY Times:

Spending Big to Fight Big Donors in Campaigns