Aaron Swartz Documentary on Kickstarter

April 24, 2013 | Kyle Chayka

A new Kickstarter project was launched today for a documentary about Aaron Swartz. Directed by Brian KnappenbergerThe Internet’s Own Boy explores the life of internet activist and programming pioneer from his formative years on the internet and involvement in both RSS and Reddit up into his final days of arrest and prosecution involving the downloading of nearly four million academic articles from the online resource JSTOR. This documentary is an opportunity to explore many of the outdated laws and terms of service agreements being implemented throughout the internet today.

A note from the director:

A lot has been written about Aaron, some of it very good, but I felt that taken as a whole it represented a fractured picture of him. I wanted to hear from the people who knew him, explore each chapter of his life and go through his numerous video appearances to have him tell his own story as much as possible. I was well aware of Aaron long before the news broke. I happened to be attending a social computing conference in New York at the time and surrounded by dozens of people who knew Aaron personally. Through their stories it became immediately clear how many diverse corners of the internet Aaron’s work touched. A few days into the conference I started recording people’s memories of him on camera, and weeks later I knew I had to go deeper to fully understand what caused such an accomplished and inspired person to take his own life. As became obvious in “We Are Legion” many internet activists are so frustrated with existing systems that they consider them unfixable. But Aaron didn’t fit into this category. Countless friends describe him as someone who wanted to work within the system, to “hack” or use new tools to fix problems in our society – everything from internet freedoms to health care. 

In addition to the creation of the documentary the filmmakers also intend to release all of the raw interview footage in full through the Internet Archive under a Creative Commons License.

(Photo: Freeculture.org)