I’ve been reading The Boy Who Could Change The World this weekend, although it’s probably an extra-emotional experience for me, due to the timing. It really is a wonderful collection of writings from Aaron’s curious and insightful mind.
Besides the content from Aaron’s blog, two longer, previously unpublished essays are included in the “Politics” and “School” chapters of the book. These were found in the Safra Center archives.
The finished masterpiece was Edited by Jed Bickman at The New Press.
Benjamin Mako Hill and Seth Schoen edited the section on “Free Culture,” and wrote its introduction. Cory Doctorow edited and wrote an introduction for the “Media” section.
David Auerbach edited and wrote the introduction for the “Computers” section. David Segal and Henry Farrell edited “Politics.” (David did the introduction, Henry the postscript for the section.) James Grimmelmann edited and wrote and introduction for “Books and Culture. Astra Taylor edited and wrote an introduction for the “Unschool” section.
One excerpt that stood out to me was Aaron’s enthusiastic account of The Book That Changed My Life. (The book being Understanding Power by Noam Chomsky.) Although the piece is titled “The Book That Changed My Life,” it turns out it was a film, Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, that caused him to find and read the book.
From The Book That Changed My Life:
Each story, individually, can be dismissed as some weird oddity, like what I’d learned about the media focusing more on posters than on policy. But seeing them all together, you can’t help but begin to tease out the larger picture, to ask yourself what’s behind all these disparate things, and what that means for the way we see the world.
Thoughtworks will be hosting a number of “Celebrating Aaron” events going on across the country to give people a place to gather, celebrate and learn more about Aaron and his legacy.
I’ll be at the San Francisco event at 6pm. See you there.
These events are also promoting the new book of Aaron’s writings titled “The Boy Who Could Change the World,” from The New Press.
From the Thoughtworks website:
In our offices all over the US, we’re honoring Aaron’s contributions to technology and society. Join us in a local office on Aaron Swartz Day for book giveaways, screenings of The Internet’s Own Boy, and discussion.
6-9PM | 814 Mission St., 5th Floor
6-9PM | 1175 Peachtree St. NE, Suite 1400
6-9PM | 200 E Randolph St, 25th Floor
*We will be selling copies of The Boy Who Could Change The World. The suggested minimum is $20, with all proceeds being donated to Black Girls Code. We have 25 copies of the book, and it will be first come first serve.
6-9PM | 15540 Spectrum Drive, Addison
6-9PM | 99 Madison Ave, 15th Floor
Aaron Swartz Hackathon 2013 at HackLab Barracas
The 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.
In the Huffington Post, Cory Doctorow talks about the afterword that Aaron wrote for Homeland (the sequel to the incredible Little Brother).
This afterword is probably one of the best explanations of the spirit behind having an Aaron Swartz Day and International Hackathon every year.
From Cory Doctorow:
I knew I wanted an afterword from Aaron Swartz, who had the best techno-activist instincts of anyone I knew, and who I’d know since he was a little kid, and who was also being savagely victimized by the US government for his principled work. I’m devastated about what happened with Aaron. I asked him to write me a afterword in the form of a letter to a kid like himself, but who was 14 in the year 2013. What he gave me was a call-to-arms that made me want to rush to a barricade, and left no doubt that we both hoped for the same thing from this book: that it would inspire a generation of activists who wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer when it came to freedom in the information age.
From the Afterword to Homeland by Aaron Swartz:
This is your life, this is your country — and if you want to keep it safe, you need to get involved…
The system is changing. Thanks to the Internet, everyday people can learn about and organize around an issue even if the system is determined to ignore it. Now, maybe we won’t win every time — this is real life, after all — but we finally have a chance.
But it only works if you take part. And now that you’ve read this book and learned how to do it, you’re perfectly suited to make it happen again. That’s right: now it’s up to you to change the system.
Let me know if I can help.