I never had the chance to meet Aaron Swartz, but I have been lucky enough to meet the people of whom’s life he affected. The Day We Fight Back is a bitter sweet project to me, that helps commemorate Aaron’s time on this planet and the work that put towards improving the online society that we knew and loved, as well as show the groundswell of community support.
I have no overwhelming feeling that TDWFB will have any direct affect on the real issues that we are concerned about, but I believe it’s important to support this cause for many reasons. First of which is to show powers-that-be that there is already a massive, soon-to-be organized community of people who are willing to fight back for not just the way we interconnect between computing devices, but for the community that has been created on-top of the Internet. It’s this community that we’re hoping to rebuild either through noble means of change, or on-top of the ashes of the previous generation.
I don’t usually feel my personal opinions are appropriate for this blog, but I think that there are a lot of people that have, similar to me, decided to self-censor and remove their voice from the community. I believe there are people that operate in dark corners, not because of some kind of nefarious activity they are performing online, but because this is the only legitimate location where they can feel free to operate — a feeling the online community used to breed by default.
Aaron believed strongly in the openness of information and sharing and creativity and innovation — all the tenets of the online community that we knew. He believed that these values should be upheld at all costs. In his Guerilla Open Access Manifesto, there’s a quote that is salient beyond just open access to information, but to privacy, surveillance, and anything that degrades the online community:
“I agree,” many say, “but what can we do? The companies hold the copyrights, they make enormous amounts of money by charging for access, and it’s perfectly legal — there’s nothing we can do to stop them.” But there is something we can, something that’s
already being done: we can fight back.
This is for Aaron; the days he fought, the fights of today, and the fights that continue on his behalf.