Computer programmer and political activist Aaron Swartz posted his Guerilla Open Access Manifesto on the nonprofit Internet Archive in 2008. On Jan. 11, 2013, at age 26, the Reddit co-founder took his own life, apparently despondent over his imminent federal prosecution and the threat of up to 50 years in prison.
Almost two years to the day before his suicide, Swartz had been arrested and charged with two counts of wire fraud and 11 violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for hacking MIT’s computer network and downloading nearly 5 million articles from the JSTOR digital library.
Yet he was no ordinary accused thief. A Fellow in Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and a longtime friend of its director, Lawrence Lessig, Swartz was also a well-known and well-liked figure in the open access movement – a worldwide effort to provide free and unrestricted access, via internet, to scientific and scholarly research.
SMU’s Central University Libraries has organized a panel discussion of Swartz’s legacy and how his actions could impact millions of students, teachers, researchers and publishers around the globe. “Jailbreaking Information: The Legacy of Hacktivist Aaron Swartz” begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 7, 2013 in the Science Information Center Mezzanine, Fondren Library Center.
- Mary Hollerich, asssistant dean for Scholarly Resources and Research Services, Central University Libraries
- Tyler Moore, assistant professor, Computer Science and Engineering, Lyle School of Engineering
- George Finney, director of digital interests and information security officer, Office of Information Technology
- David Sedman, director of technology and associate professor, Division of Cinema-TV, Meadows School of the Arts