SMU explores the legacy of Aaron Swartz and ‘guerilla open access’

Aaron Swartz

The late Aaron Swartz, co-founder of Reddit and a leader in the open access movement, is the subject of a panel discussion, “Jailbreaking Information,” hosted by SMU’s Central University Libraries. Photo credit: Sage Ross.

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.

> Find a timeline of the open access movement at the Earlham College website

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.

Nathan Huntoon, director of the Innovation Gymnasium in the Lyle School of Engineering, will moderate a panel of SMU experts including:

> Read more from the SMU Central University Libraries news blog

About Kathleen Tibbetts

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