Aaron Swartz – creator of Reddit and co-author of RSS forces PDF-spreading-spree posthume: #PDFtribute. Why Open Access matters.
Current discussions about the death of Aaron Swartz force bid discussions about copyright, open access and the publication of scientific data (papers). Aaron Swartz was one of the creators of Reddit and co-author of the RSS 1.0 specification, among actively working on the creation and discussion of creative commons. He was the founder of Demand Progress, which launched the campaign against the Internet censorship bills (SOPA/PIPA) and now has over a million members. His main interest was sociology, civic awareness and activism. On January 6, 2011, he was arrested by federal authorities in connection with systematic downloading of academic journal articles from JSTOR (he downloaded about 4 million of JSTOR's collection of academic journal articles). He was released on US$100,000 unsecured bail - though the prosecution continued - a potential prison term of up to 35 years and a fine of up to $1 million was discussed. Shortly before Swartz' death, JSTOR announced that it would make "more than 4.5 million articles" available to the public for free.
An unknown activist leaked 35GB of compressed data on 2011-07-21 05:20:52 via piratebay, stating:
"This archive contains 18,592 scientific publications totaling 33GiB, all from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society and which should be available to everyone at no cost, but most have previously only been made available at high prices through paywall gatekeepers like JSTOR. Limited access to the documents here is typically sold for $19 USD per article, though some of the older ones are available as cheaply as $8. Purchasing access to this collection one article at a time would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars." (source: thepiratebay)
There are currently two torrents spread via thepiratebay which actually can be seen as a distributed p2p-protest.
Another anonymous poster stated: "Aaron Swartz was was an internet activist. He believed tha information should be free. He co-authored the RSS 1.0 spec. He released about 20% of the PACER database of US Federal Court Documents. He set up a laptop in a utility closet at MIT and downloaded 35GB of the JSTOR archive. Clearly he was a great risk to society. The feds arrested him. If he had been found guilty, he could have faced up to 50 years in prison, and a $4 million dollar fine. Wrap you head around that." (source: thepiratebay)
Currently there is a big open access and open source paper spree going on via twitter. People are releasing their PDF publications free and available online via the #pdftribute hashtag. The website pdftribute.net automatically scrapes all the published tweets in that context.
There is lots of response to the death of Aaron Swartz, who released the Guerilla Open Access Manifesto in 2008. Lawrence Lessig wrote an angry letter to the M.I.T. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) - and other people, such as Dana Boyd, Cory Doctorow and Tim Berners-Lee expressed their sadness and rage: after all, Swartz was facing more prison time than murderers. An international discussion has started, fueling the question on harsh prosecution of cybercrimes (see in this context: nymag.com).
Still we can hope that sad events such as this one might get people to start thinking beyond their horizon - for example actually demanding real open access!
Joseph Weizenbaum, German-American author and professor emeritus of computer science at MIT is called one of the grandfathers of artificial intelligence. The documentary Weizenbaum. Rebel at Work shows Weizenbaum talking about computers and globalism. He states that "if you think of the social structures of the world (...) computers came at the right time to prevent a radical change of the world". Computers finally saved capitalism in a moment, when the polulation boom needed a structural change - in some sense, computers prevented a radical and maybe better transformation, according to Weizenbaum.
The film on DVD is highly recommended by nanofunk!
The film spans 8 decades of Joseph Weizenbaum's life. It provides a stage for his humorous narrative depicting a World of Yesterday while reflecting on the dawn of the computer age. It follows 84-year-old Weizenbaum on some of his numerous public lessons, effortlessly entertaining overcrowded lecture halls. (via amazon.com)
This is an information from our Partner, 5uper.net:
In Autumn of 2011 the Festival Coded Cultures takes place for the 4th time, this year focusing on the topic "City as Interface". Ever since the foundation of the Festival in 2004 lay the general emphasis on creative practices of cultural development on the intersections of art, technology, science and design. It is our concern to decode de- velopments, concepts and projects in those “coded” structures of digital and (new) media production, which won’t open up easily to broader audiences. Over the years the alignment of Coded Cultures and its variations were orientated internation- ally with the focus on eastern Europe in 2004, Brasil in the following years and Japan in 2009. This year, Coded Cultures involves mainly participants from Europe with prominent attendees such as transmediale from Berlin, Media Lab Prado from Madrid, Amber Festival from Istanbul and the Enter Festival from Prague.
Coded Cultures 2011 presents itself on many different locations in Vienna, with the main focus on the Donaukanal (Danube Channel) and the surrounding Viennese city districts.
From 21st to 25th of September focus days will be held, which mainly will take place at the Viennese Danube Channel, the 2nd district of Vienna, Museums Quarter Vienna, the Badeschiff and the Odeon Theatre. From the 26th of September to the 2nd of Octo- ber workshops, presentations and artist-talks are taking place. Partners are Transmediale Berlin, Media Lab Prado Madrid, Enter Festival Prag and Amber Festival Istanbul (among many others). On the 1st of October the Festival is ending with a big event at the Badeschiff in cooperation with the viennese Waves Festival.
CODED CULTURES was initiated by the group »5uper.net«: a network of producers, theorists, artists, designers, architects and programmers, which is active in the field of knowledge-work based on digital media related forms of art and culture. Recently, the Book "Coded Cultures: New Creative Practices Out of Diversity" published by Springer.