Remembering Aaron Swartz: My Review of “The Boy Who Could Change The World – By Chelsea Manning
From the review:
For me, reading this book was a revelatory experience. This compilation reminded me of when I read The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a teenager a number of years ago. Unlike Dr. King, I honestly never really knew just deep the brilliance and idealism of Aaron was until I read some of his lesser known and older pieces…
Throughout his writing, Aaron ceaselessly and confidently expresses his underlying ideology. At times, Aaron — being a young person throughout — is inconsistent and contradictory. However, at the root of it all, is his unwavering belief in the power of the people — especially the average citizen. He believes in the strength of the little guy. Aaron also prods us to create tools that make the world better for everyone, whether rich or poor…
I feel like the world abandoned Aaron in his time of need. I feel like the world — myself included — took Aaron for granted. He intelligently and thoughtfully challenged everything and everyone: software companies, corporations, multimedia conglomerates, governments, and even modern school systems! Yet, in his final challenge — we only stood on the sidelines and rooted for him, waiting for him to win again. Instead, he lost. Then, we lost.
Read the complete review here.
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Besides the content from Aaron’s blog, two longer, previously unpublished essays are included in the “Politics” and “School” chapters of the book.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