The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz

The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz


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In his too-short life, Aaron Swartz reshaped the Internet, questioned our assumptions about intellectual property, and touched all of us in ways that we may not even realize. His tragic suicide in 2013 at the age of twenty-six after being aggressively prosecuted for copyright infringement shocked the nation and the world.

Here for the first time in print is revealed the quintessential Aaron Swartz: besides being a technical genius and a passionate activist, he was also an insightful, compelling, and cutting essayist. With a technical understanding of the Internet and of intellectual property law surpassing that of many seasoned professionals, he wrote thoughtfully and humorously about intellectual property, copyright, and the architecture of the Internet. He wrote as well about unexpected topics such as pop culture, politics both electoral and idealistic, dieting, and lifehacking. Including three in-depth and previously unpublished essays about education, governance, and cities,The Boy Who Could Change the World contains the life’s work of one of the most original minds of our time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620970669
Publisher: New Press, The
Publication date: 01/05/2016
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.30(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction Lawrence Lessig 1

Free Culture

Introduction Benjamin Mako Hill Seth Schoen 7

Counterpoint: Downloading Isn't Stealing 11

UTI Interview with Aaron Swartz 13

Jefferson: Nature Wants to Be Free 23

Guerilla Open Access Manifesto 26

The Fruits of Mass Collaboration 28

The Techniques of Mass Collaboration: A Third Way Out 30

Wikimedia at the Crossroads 33

Who Writes Wikipedia? 36

Who Runs Wikipedia? 41

Making More Wikipedians 45

Making More Wikipedias 48

Code, and Other Laws of Wikipedia 51

False Outliers 54

(The Dandy Warhols) Come Down 56

Up with Facts: Finding the Truth in WikiCourt 58

Welcome, 61

A Database of Folly 63

When is Transparency Useful? 67

How We Stopped SOPA 75

Computers Introduction David Auerbach 87

Excerpt: A Programmable Web 89

Privacy, Accuracy, Security: Pick Two 97

Fixing Compulsory Licensing 100

Postel's Law Has No Exceptions 104

Squaring the Triangle: Secure, Decentralized, Human-Readable Names 106

Release Late, Release Rarely 109

Bake, Don't Fry 111

Building Baked Sites 113

A Brief History of Ajax 115

DJB 118

A Non-Programmer's Apology 121


Introduction David Segal 129

How Congress Works 131

Keynes, Explained Briefly 172

Toward a Larger Left 179

Professional Politicians Beware! 184

The Attraction of the Center 189

The Conservative Nanny State 191

Political Entrepreneurs and Lunatics with Money 194

Postscript Henry Farrell 199


Introduction Cory Doctorow 203

The Book That Changed My Life 205

The Invention of Objectivity 208

Shifting the Terms of Debate: How Big Business Covered Up Global Warming 210

Making Noise: How Right-wing Think Tanks Get the Word Out 213

Endorsing Racism: The Story of The Bell Curve 216

Spreading Lies: How Think Tanks Ignore the Facts 219

Saving Business: The Origins of Right-wing Think Tanks 221

Hurting Seniors: The Attack on Social Security 223

Fighting Back: Responses to the Mainstream Media 225

What Journalists Don't: Lessons from the Times 229

Rachel Carson: Mass Murderer? 234

Is Undercover Over? Disguise Seen as Deceit by Timid journalists 241

Books and Culture

Introduction James Grimmelmann 251

Recommended Books 253

Guest Review by Aaron Swartz: Chris Hayes' The Twilight of the Elites 265

Freakonomics 270

The Immorality of Freakonomics 273

In Offense of Classical Music 275

A Unified Theory of Magazines 277

On intellectual Dishonesty 279

The Smalltalk Question 281


Introduction Astra Taylor 285

School 287

Welcome to Unschooling 321

School Rules 327

The Writings of John Holt 329

Apprentice Education 333

Intellectual Diversity at Stanford 335

David Horowitz on Academic Freedom 337

What It Means to Be an Intellectual 344

Getting It Wrong 347


Legacy 353

Contributor Bios 357

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