Last week’s Pioneer Awards were absolutely amazing. I will be posting video soon, but here are some photos.
The Internet Archive is hosting the Fifth Annual Aaron Swartz Day International Hackathon and Evening Event:
Location: Internet Archive, 300 Funston Ave, San Francisco, CA 94118
November 4, 2017, from 6:00-7:00 (Reception) 7:30pm – 9:30 pm (Speakers)
The purpose of the evening event, as always, is to inspire direct action toward improving the world. Everyone has been asked to speak about whatever they feel is most important.
The event will take place following this year’s San Francisco Aaron Swartz International Hackathon, which is going on Saturday, November 4, from 10-6 and Sunday, November 5, from 11am-6pm at the Internet Archive.
Hackathon Reception: 6:00pm-7:00pm – (A paid ticket for the evening event also gets you in to the Hackathon Reception.)
Come talk to the speakers and the rest of the Aaron Swartz Day community, and join us in celebrating many incredible things that we’ve accomplished by this year! (Although there is still much work to be done.)
We will toast to the launch of the Pursuance Project (an open source, end-to-end encrypted Project Management suite, envisioned by Barrett Brown and brought to life by Steve Phillips).
Migrate your way upstairs: 7:00-7:30pm – The speakers are starting early, at 7:30pm this year – and we are also providing a stretch break at 8:15pm – and for those to come in that might have arrived late.
Speakers upstairs begin at 7:30 pm.
Speakers in reverse order:
Chelsea Manning (Network Security Expert, Former Intelligence Analyst)
Lisa Rein (Chelsea Manning’s Archivist, Co-founder Creative Commons, Co-founder Aaron Swartz Day)
Daniel Rigmaiden (Transparency Advocate)
Barrett Brown (Journalist, Activist, Founder of the Pursuance Project) (via SKYPE)
Jason Leopold (Senior Investigative Reporter, Buzzfeed News)
Jennifer Helsby (Lead Developer, SecureDrop, Freedom of the Press Foundation)
Cindy Cohn (Executive Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation)
Gabriella Coleman (Hacker Anthropologist, Author, Researcher, Educator)
Caroline Sinders (Designer/Researcher, Wikimedia Foundation, Creative Dissent Fellow, YBCA)
Brewster Kahle (Co-founder and Digital Librarian, Internet Archive, Co-founder Aaron Swartz Day)
Steve Phillips (Project Manager, Pursuance)
Mek Karpeles (Citizen of the World, Internet Archive)
Brenton Cheng (Senior Engineer, Open Library, Internet Archive)
About the Speakers (speaker bios are at the bottom of this invite):
Chelsea Manning – Network Security Expert, Transparency Advocate
Chelsea E. Manning is a network security expert, whistleblower, and former U.S. Army intelligence analyst. While serving 7 years of an unprecedented 35 year sentence for a high-profile leak of government documents, she became a prominent and vocal advocate for government transparency and transgender rights, both on Twitter and through her op-ed columns for The Guardian and The New York Times. She currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area, where she writes about technology, artificial intelligence, and human rights.
Lisa Rein – Chelsea Manning’s Archivist, Co-founder, Aaron Swartz Day & Creative Commons
Lisa Rein is Chelsea Manning’s archivist, and ran her @xychelsea Twitter account from December 2015 – May 2017. She is a co-founder of Creative Commons, where she worked with Aaron Swartz on its technical specification, when he was only 15. She is a writer, musician and technology consultant, and lectures for San Francisco State University’s BECA department. Lisa is the Digital Librarian for the Dr. Timothy Leary Futique Trust.
Daniel Rigmaiden – Transparency Advocate
Daniel Rigmaiden became a government transparency advocate after U.S. law enforcement used a secret cell phone surveillance device to locate him inside his home. The device, often called a “Stingray,” simulates a cell tower and tricks cell phones into connecting to a law enforcement controlled cellular network used to identify, locate, and sometimes collect the communications content of cell phone users. Before Rigmaiden brought Stingrays into the public spotlight in 2011, law enforcement concealed use of the device from judges, defense attorneys and defendants, and would typically not obtain a proper warrant before deploying the device.
Barrett Brown – Journalist, Activist, and Founder of the Pursuance Project
Barrett Brown is a writer and anarchist activist. His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, the Guardian, The Intercept, Huffington Post, New York Press, Skeptic, The Daily Beast, al-Jazeera, and dozens of other outlets. In 2009 he founded Project PM, a distributed think-tank, which was later re-purposed to oversee a crowd-sourced investigation into the private espionage industry and the intelligence community at large via e-mails stolen from federal contractors and other sources. In 2011 and 2012 he worked with Anonymous on campaigns involving the Tunisian revolution, government misconduct, and other issues. In mid-2012 he was arrested and later sentenced to four years in federal prison on charges stemming from his investigations and work with Anonymous. While imprisoned, he won the National Magazine Award for his column, The Barrett Brown Review of Arts and Letters and Prison. Upon his release, in late 2016, he began work on the Pursuance System, a platform for mass civic engagement and coordinated opposition. His third book, a memoir/manifesto, will be released in 2018 by Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux.
Jason Leopold, Senior Investigative Reporter, Buzzfeed News
Jason Leopold is an Emmy-nominated investigative reporter on the BuzzFeed News Investigative Team. Leopold’s reporting and aggressive use of the Freedom of Information Act has been profiled by dozens of media outlets, including a 2015 front-page story in The New York Times. Politico referred to Leopold in 2015 as “perhaps the most prolific Freedom of Information requester.” That year, Leopold, dubbed a ‘FOIA terrorist’ by the US government testified before Congress about FOIA (PDF) (Video). In 2016, Leopold was awarded the FOI award from Investigative Reporters & Editors and was inducted into the National Freedom of Information Hall of Fame by the Newseum Institute and the First Amendment Center.
Jennifer Helsby, Lead Developer, SecureDrop (Freedom of the Press Foundation)
Jennifer is Lead Developer of SecureDrop. Prior to joining FPF, she was a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Data Science and Public Policy at the University of Chicago, where she worked on applying machine learning methods to problems in public policy. Jennifer is also the CTO and co-founder of Lucy Parsons Labs, a non-profit that focuses on police accountability and surveillance oversight. In a former life, she studied the large scale structure of the universe, and received her Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Chicago in 2015.
Cindy Cohn – Executive Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
Cindy Cohn is the Executive Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. From 2000-2015 she served as EFF’s Legal Director as well as its General Counsel.The National Law Journal named Ms. Cohn one of 100 most influential lawyers in America in 2013, noting: “[I]f Big Brother is watching, he better look out for Cindy Cohn.”
Gabriella Coleman – Hacker Anthropologist, Author, Researcher, Educator
Gabriella (Biella) Coleman holds the Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy at McGill University. Trained as an anthropologist, her scholarship explores the politics and cultures of hacking, with a focus on the sociopolitical implications of the free software movement and the digital protest ensemble Anonymous. She has authored two books, Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking (Princeton University Press, 2012) and Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous (Verso, 2014).
Caroline Sinders – Researcher/Designer, Wikimedia Foundation
Caroline Sinders is a machine learning designer/user researcher, artist. For the past few years, she has been focusing on the intersections of natural language processing, artificial intelligence, abuse, online harassment and politics in digital, conversational spaces. Caroline is a designer and researcher at the Wikimedia Foundation, and a Creative Dissent fellow with YBCA. She holds a masters from New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program from New York University.
Brewster Kahle, Founder & Digital Librarian, Internet Archive
Brewster Kahle has spent his career intent on a singular focus: providing Universal Access to All Knowledge. He is the founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive, which now preserves 20 petabytes of data – the books, Web pages, music, television, and software of our cultural heritage, working with more than 400 library and university partners to create a digital library, accessible to all.
Steve Phillips, Project Manager, Pursuance Project
Steve Phillips is a programmer, philosopher, and cypherpunk, and is currently the Project Manager of Barrett Brown’s Pursuance Project. In 2010, after double-majoring in mathematics and philosophy at UC Santa Barbara, Steve co-founded Santa Barbara Hackerspace. In 2012, in response to his concerns over rumored mass surveillance, he created his first secure application, Cloakcast. And in 2015, he spoke at the DEF CON hacker conference, where he presented CrypTag. Steve has written over 1,000,000 words of philosophy culminating in a new philosophical methodology, Executable Philosophy.
Mek Karpeles, Citizen of the World, Internet Archive
Mek is a citizen of the world at the Internet Archive. His life mission is to organize a living map of the world’s knowledge. With it, he aspires to empower every person to overcome oppression, find and create opportunity, and reach their fullest potential to do good. Mek’s favorite media includes non-fiction books and academic journals — tools to educate the future — which he proudly helps make available through his work on Open Library.
Brenton Cheng, Senior Engineer, Open Library, Internet Archive
Brenton Cheng is a technology-wielding explorer, inventor, and systems thinker. He spearheads the technical and product development of Open Library and the user-facing Archive.org website. He is also an adjunct professor in the Performing Arts & Social Justice department at University of San Francisco.
For more information, contact:
Lisa Rein, Co-founder, Aaron Swartz Day
EFF and other lawyers will lead a conversation about the current issues and threats in constitutional law. Focusing on specific sections and amendments we will talk about current cases on censorship, surveillance, search and seizure, and more.
Workshops on using encryption tools and maybe musical performances will accompany.
If you want to present, perform, or have other ideas, please email us.
When: Friday, February 17th 5:30pm-9pm (program 6-8)
Where: Internet Archive
300 Funston Ave. SF, CA 94118
Potluck-style: Please bring apple pie or other food
Reserve your free ticket here
Streamed via Facebook Live
- Cindy Cohn – Executive Director of EFF
- Corynne McSherry – Legal Director of EFF
- Stephanie Lacambra – Staff Attorney at EFF
- Victoria Baranetsky – First Look Media Technology Legal Fellow for the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press
- Geoff King – Lecturer at UC Berkeley, and Non-Residential Fellow at Stanford Center for Internet and Society
- Bill Fernholz – Lecturer In Residence at Berkeley Law
For those who cannot attend in person, we will stream the event on Facebook Live, so make sure you’re following us on Facebook.
It’s never easy on January 11th. This year will be no exception.
Brewster Kahle recorded this in the Fall of 2015. Today is the first time it has been published.
Written by Brewster Kahle, shortly after Aaron’s Death, on January 11, 2013.
Howl for Aaron Swartz
New ways to create culture
Smashed by lawsuits and bullying
Laws that paint most of us criminal
Inspiring young leaders
Living open source lives
Inspiring communities selflessly
Then crushed by government
Crushed by politicians, for a modest fee
Crushed by corporate spreadsheet outsourced business development
Then infiltrated, baited
Celebrating public spaces
Learning, trying, exploring
Targeted by corporate security snipers
Ending up in databases
Ending up in prison
Traps set by those that promised change
Surveillance, wide-eyes, watching everyone now
Government surveillance that cannot be discussed or questioned
Corporate surveillance that is accepted with a click
Terrorists here, Terrorists there
More guns in schools to promote more guns, business
Manning, solitary, power
Public access to the public domain
Now closed out of our devices
Closed out of owning books
Do not open
Traps designed by the silicon wizards
With remarkable abilities to self-justify
Traps sprung by a generation
That vowed not to repeat
COINTELPRO and dirty tricks and Democratic National Conventions
Government-produced malware so sophisticated
That career engineers go home each night thinking what?
Saying what to their families and friends?
Debt for school
Debt for houses
Debt for life
Credit scores, treadmills, with chains
Inspiring and optimistic explorers navigating a sea of traps set by us
I see traps ensnare our inspiring generation
Leaders and discoverers finding new ways and getting crushed for it
From the San Francisco Aaron Swartz Memorial. January 24, 2013.
Brewster does a great job of explaining to us about Aaron’s “Open Source Life,” and how “bulk downloading” (although it got Aaron into trouble) is in itself, is not only “not a crime,” but a desirable action with outcomes that benefit the public.
He also sheds light on Aaron’s ongoing quests to make U.S. legal court documents (via PACER) and works in the Public Domain (via GoogleBooks) more publicly accessible (rather than locking both up behind paywalls or with cumbersome downloading restrictions).
I learned from Aaron what living an Open Source life was like. I think he really did live that way. He floated and helped others. He gave everything away. He really wasn’t tied to an institution. He really was not a company man in any sense. He was really quite pure in his motivations, and it made him incredibly effective at cutting through a lot of the stuff that most of us deal with.
An open source life.
He was able to keep his self interests at bay, which is kind of remarkable for a lot of us. But he was able to do it. And he was able to communicate well with an open smile and a kind heart. He had a way of communicating with this energy on things that mattered and he had a genius at finding things that mattered to millions of people. There are lots of things to work on, but the things that he worked on were incredibly effective.
We first met, I think, in 2002 at the Eldred Supreme Court case in Washington DC, where we drove a Bookmobile Across, celebrating the Public Domain by giving away books that kids made, and also then at the Creative Commons Launch. But I really got to know Aaron when he said ‘I’d really like to help make the Open Library website with the Internet Archive’ to go and give books and integrate books into the Internet itself. And he said “I’ve got this cool technology, called “Infogami,” it really made it possible to make Reddit happen. Let’s use it again for this other thing.”
And it was wonderful to work with him, but it was really unlike working with anybody else I’ve ever met. You certainly couldn’t tell him what to do, he just kind of did what was the right thing to do, and he was right certainly a lot more often than I was. We also worked together in other areas, when he was a champion of open access, especially of the Public Domain. Bringing public access to the Public Domain.
Most people think that’s kind of an obvious thing. Doesn’t “the Public Domain” mean that it’s publicly accessible? Of course all of us say “No!” It’s sort of like there are these National Parks, with moats and walls and guns turrets sort of pointing out, in case someone wanted to come near the Public Domain. And Aaron didn’t think this was right. And he spent a lot of time and effort freeing these materials.
One of the first ones that we were actively working together on was freeing government court cases, so that anybody could see this without having to have special privilege or money, and also to make it so you could data mine it, and go and look at these things in a very different way. So he freed and liberated a lot of court cases from the PACER system, and uploaded them, in bulk, to the Internet Archive, so that people could have access to these. There are now 4 Million documents, from 800,000 cases that have been used by 6 million people, because of the project that Aaron Swartz and others helped start.
It was an interesting project because it went over many different organizations, each playing a role and all cooperating in a very non-corporate way. It was a very Aaron style way of making things happen. And the idea of making court documents and legal documents available more easily struck a chord with me because, in college, I was trying to figure out how I was gonna try to get out of the draft. And my college didn’t have a legal collection, and the only way that I could try to get to legal court documents was to get an ID from my professor and break in to the Harvard Law Library to go and read court documents. That sucked! It really makes no sense, and Aaron not only sort of saw that it doesn’t make sense. He decided he was going to try to help solve this. Not just for himself, but for everyone.
Then there was other Public Domain collections like the Google Books Collection. Google Books was a library project to go and digitize lots and lots of books. A lot of them were Public Domain. Google would make them available from their website, but really really painfully. It would make it so if you wanted one book, you could get one book. If you wanted 100 books, they would turn off your IP address forever. This is no way to have public access to the Public Domain, and the Internet Archive started getting these uploads of “Google Books.” Going faster, and faster, and faster. Like well, where are these coming from? Well it turns out it’s Aaron. He and a bunch of friends figured out that they could go and get a bunch of computers to go slowly enough to just clock through tons of Google Books and upload them to the Internet Archive. Interestingly, Google never got upset about it. The libraries, on the other hand, grumbled. Which is so… Well anyway. They’ll get over it.
So, when this started happening, we said “Ok. What’s going on? Should we be concerned?” The answer was “No, it’s Public Domain.” We just made sure that we got the cataloging data right, and we linked back to Google, so that if you’re on the book, you can go back to the original page and see the da da da da da. And it all worked well.
But there it was. Aaron doing it again; bringing access to the Public Domain.
What is crushing to me is that Aaron got ensnared by the Federal Government for doing something that the Internet Archive actively encourages others to do for our collections, and we think all libraries should encourage, which is: Bulk downloading to support data mining and other research using computers. This is just the way the world works.
The first step is for a computer to read and analyze materials is to download a set of documents. When Aaron did this from one library, JSTOR, they strongly objected, and demanded that MIT find and stop that user, which then led U.S. Prosecutors to pull out their worst techniques.
Did anybody stop to ask if bulk downloading is a crime? I say “No. Bulk downloading is not, in itself, a crime.” Let’s stop this practice of discouraging bulk downloading, because there are encouraging projects that are learning amazing new things by having computers be part of the research process. Let’s not stop this and discourage young people from coming up with new and different ways to learn things from our libraries.
What resulted, in this case, was tragic, and not necessary. Really, what we want is computers to be able to read. Aaron knew this. We’re all building this, and he got ensnared anyway. Let’s let our computers read.
Because of this tragedy, JSTOR, whom I talked to this morning, and the Internet Archive, have agreed to meet to discuss the broad issue of data mining and web crawling. I hope that we really make progress. At least there’s reasons to be positive.
This assault on Aaron would disillusion, discourage and depress any principled young man, and if there ever was a principled young man, it was Aaron Swartz.
We miss you, and we will carry on your important work.
Complete Transcription of the Friends of Aaron movie, including: Cory Doctorow, Brewster Kahle, Cindy Cohn and Virgil Griffith.
From the November 7, 2015 evening event at the Internet Archive, in San Francisco, before the speakers.
“Hi, I’m Cory Doctorow. Welcome to the third annual Aaron Swartz Day and International Hackathon.”
Now a Few Words from a Few Friends of Aaron’s
Blogger, BoingBoing, Science Fiction Author, Little Brother/Homeland
Special Advisor, Electronic Frontier Foundation
You know. I knew Aaron for a really long time. And when we first met, people who cared about the Internet were a bit weird. It was as though we were really interested in something trivial and futuristic and speculative, while all around us raged really important battles about more significant issues. Issues about climate change. Issues about financial fairness. Issues about privacy. Issues about race and gender.
And what we’ve found in the years since then is that those other issues have gotten even more urgent, but more and more people have come to realize that the Internet is the fight that will determine how all those other fights go on. Because the Internet is the battlefield on which all those fights will be fought.
And so it’s really crucial that we win the Internet. Not because the Internet is more important than everything else, but because it’s the most foundational thing.
I hope you have a great day at the International Hackathon.
Founder and Digital Librarian
Aaron Swartz lives in many many ways. Aaron Swartz’ ideas have been carried forward by many others, and in fact, tragically, by his persecution, prosecution, and death, has come to be widely known to others.
The idea of public access to the public domain. That we can live open source lives freely, and that it’s desirable, and you meet new and interesting people.
And the lesson of Aaron Swartz has not been forgotten by the institutions that participated in having him crushed, and has led to reforms, top and bottom, of those organizations, to not have that ever happen again. So, public access, public domain, living open source lives, should be encouraged for the next generation, and made safe by the institutions that are too slowly learning their lessons.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Aaron has left us all such a legacy of caring about the politics around technology and not just caring, but getting involved. And whether you’re getting involved as a technologist or an activist you can have no better loadstar than Aaron. I have watched as he’s inspired people all over the world.
We haven’t had success in building things in DC, to help fix things. Aaron’s law has gotten stalled. However, we’ve been able to stop the bad. There have been several attempts, and there’s one right now, in the Cybersecurity to continue on the horrible pathway of making the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act worse and worse and worse. And, we stopped it cold, shortly after Aaron died. We’ve gotten it dramatically changed this time, and I think we’re gonna stop it cold again. So, while we haven’t yet been able to make good out of what happened to Aaron, we’ve been able to stop some bad. I’m not done yet. It’s still early days. But, I still run into people all the time who tell me that learning about Aaron was the moment. Their “wake up” moment. When they decided, “I care about technology too, and I want to get involved.” And that’s awesome!
So after Aaron Swartz’ death, there was a rash of suicides at Cal Tech, where I was at school. (Unrelated!) And they had a little suicide thing. And I gave a little talk there, and I’ve been thinking about it recently. And I remember what I told them. I said “even when you feel like crap. You’re like ‘I can’t do anything.’ ‘I’m no good.’ ‘I spend like four days out of the week sleeping.’ ‘I’m only productive one day a week, tops.’ I would say, “even that one day a week, is more valuable than you would ever realize.”
I used Aaron as an explicit example. Even though Aaron was not even near (pauses). He was definitely not thriving. He was in surviving, not thriving mode. But still, even him in surviving mode was like amazing. You know. But I think he just couldn’t see it.
And I feel like Aaron was making this mistake as well. Okay so, Aaron would kind of flip between being egotistical and being very self deprecating. So, internally, he though of himself very highly, but outwardly he’d be very self deprecating. I felt like just in general, he did not appreciate, like, his own importance and the things he could do. Even if Aaron was active one day a week. Well that’s awesome. A one day a week Aaron, I’ll take it. I’ll totally take it. Ya know. And I think he would have really had difficulty, seeing that, as useful to the world. He’d be like “oh I’m so unproductive. I’m so ungood. Blah blah blah blah. No no no. One day a week’s great.
Brewster Kahle (ending comments):
Aaron Swartz has inspired hackathons, yearly gatherings of people remembering and moving forward some of the ideas of SecureDrop, of going and building public access to journal literature, to basically building a public sphere that may not be tied to institutions, certainly not tied to business plans, but tied to an inspiring vision, of information access and living open source lives. Aaron Swartz lives on in many many ways.
Please donate to my Kickstarter for “From DeadDrop to SecureDrop” – Thanks!!
Index of Speakers and Direct Links to Video and Transcriptions