What is #AaronSwartzDay? It is a day of remembrance, it is a day of awareness. We take this day in the name and memory of Aaron Swartz. Aaron was a brilliant young mind who co-founded RSS 1.0 at the age of 14. Aaron wasn’t satisfied with such an amazing accomplishment at such a young age, he realized he had a gift and wanted to share that gift with the world. Aaron went on to contribute to the creation of the CreativeCommons licensing process. He continued his career by creating Reddit.com and OpenLibrary.org
Of course Aaron is best known for his unauthorized work with JSTOR. Aaron sought to liberate millions of JSTOR documents from their vaults into the archives of the internet as a product of Open Access. Aaron was a staunch believer in Open Access (Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto, Swartz) and had faith that through Open Access the people of the world could reach an unprecedented state of being. In other words, Aaron was seeking a new age of enlightenment through Open Access. Simply put, Aaron wanted as we all do, Freedom of Information.
We choose this day to remember Aaron through social media because it represents the one-month mark since Aaron was found dead. Aaron Swartz committed suicide because of the impossible amounts of pressure put on him by a “justice” system that seeks to persecute rather than prosecute suspected criminals. Aaron was charged with a large number of felonies adding up to a potential 50-Year sentence. While he was given the chance to plea out of the case by taking 6 months in prison and pleading guilty to all of his charges, this was not an acceptable option for Aaron. Aaron, as we do, believed that his actions in regards to JSTOR were not criminal but done altruistically with the hopes of enlightening mankind as a whole. An obvious act of defiance that was meant to show that every person can play a role in making Open Access a reality.
#OPAngel became a reality shortly after Aaron was found dead, we initially existed to protect Aaron’s funeral service from a radical cult that sought to use his death as a soapbox for their hateful rhetoric. We ensured the cult’s failure in a matter of less than two days. Phase 1 of #OPAngel also consisted of online protests aimed at raising awareness to the miscarriage of justice that the DOJ perpetrated upon Aaron. Those guilty parties were identified and #OPAngel entered Phase 2.
With the advent of Phase 2 #OPAngel saw the creation of Aaron’s Law by Rep. Zoe Lofgren. #OPAngel also saw the creation of many petitions and services aimed at #CFAA reform and the administration of justice upon those responsible for Aaron’s Death, including Carmen Ortiz and Steve Heymann. Phase 2 consisted of a multitude of Online and Offline petitions which called for reform. The success of these protests spawned what is to be known as Phase 3 of #OPAngel.
Phase 3 of #OPAngel is to consist of more offline and online protests until #CFAA reform becomes a reality and those responsible for Aaron’s death are held as such. We will continue to bring awareness to these issues in any way we deem necessary. #OPLastResort has come to light with a number of high-profile hacks including those on the Fed. #OPLastResort shares many of the same core ideas as #OPAngel and in many ways #OPLastResort is a logical extension of #OPAngel. In that, we support #OPLastResort in their effort to raise awareness of Aaron, his struggles, and #CFAA reform. (See below for protest details on the 18th of February in DC and Boston)
Celebrate Aaron’s Life with us on this wonderful #AaronSwartzDay and share your stories of Aaron, share Aaron’s works, share facts about Aaron, share everything! We urge people to archive the information shared on this special day for later use. I hope we are able to use this day for #CFAA reform awareness, and show people who Aaron Swartz was and why his ideas did not die with him.