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Online activist and cultural icon Aaron Swartz was just 26 when he committed suicide in 2013. In his timely, smart and fascinating book Justin Peters – Slate correspondent and contributor to The New York Times, Washington Monthly and many others – tells Swartz’s tragic story.
Swartz was a zealous advocate for unrestricted access to information on the internet, and pivotal to the development of Creative Commons, Reddit, RSS, and the software platform SecureDrop used by the world’s media to facilitate secure communication with their sources. Fiercely opposed to the Stop Online Piracy Act, he was indicted by the US government in 2011 for alleged computer crimes, after downloading millions of articles from a pay-walled database.
The battle over the control and free exchange of information has never been more contentious, and The Idealist takes us through 200 years of murky data morality to explain what Swartz was fighting for. Peters explores the rise of open access and other ideologies that challenge an increasingly corporate internet, and asks what might be next for intellectual property. Can a universally accessible, comprehensive and free ‘library of the future’ become a thing of the present?