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

The New Press has published a new collection of Aaron Swartz’s writing called The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz. I worked with Seth Schoen to introduce and help edit the opening section of book that includes Aaron’s writings on free culture, access to information and knowledge, and copyright. Seth and I have put our introduction online under an appropriately free license (CC BY-SA).

aaronsw_book_coverOver the last week, I’ve read the whole book again. I think the book really is a wonderful snapshot of Aaron’s thought and personality. It’s got bits that make me roll my eyes, bits that make me want to shout in support, and bits that continue to challenge me. It all makes me miss Aaron terribly. I strongly recommend the book.

Because the publication is post-humous, it’s meant that folks like me are doing media work for the book. In honor of naming the book their “progressive pick” of the week, Truthout has also published an interview with me about Aaron and the book.

Other folks who introduced and/or edited topical sections in the book are David Auerbach (Computers), David Segal (Politics), Cory Doctorow (Media), James Grimmelmann (Books and Culture), and Astra Taylor (Unschool). The book is introduced by Larry Lessig.

Author: Benjamin Mako Hill

Rebel with rather too many causes. And your host!

5 thoughts on “The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz”

    1. Someone from The New Press can correct me but my understanding is that the answer is no. The book includes material brought together from various places that had originally published Aaron’s work that is under different licenses. I think that nearly all of the content is available online and much of it was released under free licenses during Aaron’s lifetime. Unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to everything or, by extension, to the collection.

      1. That is correct; Aaron didn’t leave his intellectual property under a creative commons licence — he specifically entrusted someone to take care of the rights for him — so it was not our choice, and we couldn’t retroactively go back and revise that decision for him. Most (but not all) of the writing is still freely available online, and the previously unpublished essays will surely soon appear online — the book is for people who want to read it as a collected body of work in one volume. Mako and Seth’s introduction is under a CC licence, however.
        Thanks!
        Jed

  1. In the interview, you talked about how “If Kerr is right, it could be that the kind of callous bullying that Aaron was subjected to is the normal mode of operation in the US attorney’s office.”. It’s not just the US attorney’s office. It’s standard operating procedure for prosecutors in general. Lawyer/blogger Ken White had a long blog post in part on this for people coming to the issue from this case:

    https://popehat.com/2013/03/24/three-things-you-may-not-get-about-the-aaron-swartz-case/

    Look at the section:
    “The Second Thing: If You Think Aaron Swartz Was Singled Out For Unusual Treatment, You Aren’t Paying Attention.”

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