The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014)

The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014)

Aaron SwartzTim Berners-LeeCindy CohnGabriella Coleman
Brian Knappenberger


The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014) is a English movie. Brian Knappenberger has directed this movie. Aaron Swartz,Tim Berners-Lee,Cindy Cohn,Gabriella Coleman are the starring of this movie. It was released in 2014. The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014) is considered one of the best Documentary,Biography,Crime movie in India and around the world.

The story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz. From Swartz's help in the development of the basic internet protocol RSS to his co-founding of Reddit, his fingerprints are all over the internet. But it was Swartz's groundbreaking work in social justice and political organizing combined with his aggressive approach to information access that ensnared him in a two year legal nightmare. It was a battle that ended with the taking of his own life at the age of 26. Aaron's story touched a nerve with people far beyond the online communities in which he was a celebrity. This film is a personal story about what we lose when we are tone deaf about technology and its relationship to our civil liberties.


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The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014) Reviews

  • Aaron's story and the imbalanced US justice system


    This non-fictional film documents the devastating and mortifying story of the the late Aaron Swartz and his battle with politics and the US justice system. It's heartwarming, funny, and tearful. You'll need to sit down to watch this one. Anyone that uses computers should watch this film! The film implied important questions: 1. Do computer users have any rights in the United States at all? If not, do the lawmakers not know enough about computers to make them? 2. Why do US Federal prosecutors threaten computer users when the "injured parties" state that they do not seek prosecution? 3. Why does a university like MIT not protect the fundamental rights of its students? 4. Isn't the primary role of a university to protect and nourish the fundamental rights of students before teaching can occur? 5. How much of Aaron's prosecution was based on legal precedent and how much of it was politically motivated? 6. Should any amount of politics be tolerable in a legal case where someone's life is on-the-line? 7. Why is the U.S. secret service prosecuting civilians in matters not related to national security? I cannot begin to answer these questions by myself, but someone much smarter than me, like Aaron, may have been able to. Computer experts have historically been blamed for the mistakes of others that did not know what they were doing with technology. Experts are threatened, scared into submission, and punished for the smallest infraction. Schools, governments, and everyday people are scared of computer experts and the power they command. This movie leads one to believe that the nation's leaders are letting their fears control their decisions about technology instead of seeking out the experts and being open about their policies. This film covers all of this and more. It most importantly serves as Aaron's story. Aaron is portrayed as a brilliant young computer expert that won't give up. It shows Aaron from a young age up until his last moments. His family, his friends, dreams and aspirations are all present. It shows his success at business and his genius. The filmmakers did an amazing job in making this beautiful film. This a tribute to Aaron's life and work. I highly recommend watching this film.

  • A good documentary of a very important subject.


    This is a very good documentary of a subject that EVERYONE should be interested in. If you're interested in the Internet, technology, open publishing (science or law), or freedom, you MUST watch this documentary. It's a moving and disturbing story of a very important young man, and how the government tried to make an example out of him. Where it fails, is dealing with Aaron's mental health issues. His struggles with depression (which he documented in his blog) were glossed over, and even dismissed (such as when he brother said he didn't remember any mood swings as a child). I think this was purposefully done to fit the thesis of the documentary (that the prosecution backed him into a corner), and ignores a major part of Aaron's life. Just because he was "at-risk" due to mental illness, doesn't mean he wasn't targeted and persecuted. Instead, his depression was swept under the rug by the filmmaker, as it so often is in our society. Overall, this is a very important film and I would highly recommend it. However, read Aaron's blogs and writings for supplemental info!

  • A deeply moving and very disturbing documentary


    In a world where idealism is a scarce commodity, Aaron Swartz stood out. A computer programmer and political and social activist, Aaron had a quaint goal — to make the world a better place, to help us live our lives so that they make a difference. Ultimately, however, though he tried to save the world, he could not save himself. On January 11, 2013, Swartz, age 26, hanged himself in his New York apartment, after having been vigorously pursued by the U.S. Department of Justice for two years for hacking MIT's computer network and downloading 4.8 million documents from the JSTOR database, a private corporation that charged exorbitant fees for non-subscribers to view online research. Swartz's story is told in a deeply moving and very disturbing documentary The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, directed by Brian Knappenberger. The film traces Swartz' life from the time he was a three-year-old prodigy able to read a meeting notice posted on the refrigerator to his later years when he created the prototype for Wikipedia, helped start up RSS and Reddit and wrote specifications for Creative Commons, an organization devoted to enabling the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work. Wherever he was, however, he challenged the system and the corporate organizational structure whether it was in high school, Stanford University, or Silicon Valley. Though the film does not break new ground stylistically, the interviews with Aaron's family, girlfriends, and friends such as Net activists Tim Berners-Lee who created the World Wide Web and author Cory Doctorow are illuminating and often inspiring. Some of the best scenes are Swartz's political campaign to defeat SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act introduced in Congress and expected to pass. He galvanized the opposition with creative use of the Internet to ultimately defeat a bill he thought would restrict Internet freedom. He also worked for now Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of the few progressive voices in our politics. Swartz defended his action in hacking MIT's computers in a manifesto that read in part, "Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. The world's entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations. Want to read the papers featuring the most famous results of the sciences? You'll need to send enormous amounts to publishers like Reed Elsevier." In the tradition of Thoreau, he said, "There is no justice in following unjust laws. It's time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture." While Aaron's decision to free scholarly works from MIT from private corporate control may have been ill-advised, the government's treatment of him as a dangerous criminal was unwarranted and out of proportion to the crime. Originally indicted on four counts, after his SOPA campaign was successful, Carmen Ortiz, U.S. Attorney for the district of Massachusetts, upped the number of counts to thirteen to "send a message." She accused Swartz of violating Title 18 of the U.S. Code, which carries a maximum penalty of 50 years in jail and one million dollars in fines. Ortiz who pursued the case even after JSTOR agreed to drop the charges, justified the indictment by saying, "stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data, or dollars." Attorney General Eric Holder defended Ortiz's prosecution before the Senate Judiciary Committee, terming it, "a good use of prosecutorial discretion." After Swartz' death, Ortiz issued a statement saying that her office had never intended to seek maximum penalties against him, a small consolation to Swartz' family. In contrast, the U.S. Department of Justice never intended to seek ANY penalties against those responsible for the financial manipulations and fraud that wiped out the jobs and living standards of millions of people. The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz is not just an advocacy film, but a character study of a young man who was not afraid to challenge what he thought was an unjust system. A clip is shown of Swartz saying, "I think you should always be questioning, I take this very scientific attitude in which everything you've learned is just provisional, that it's always open to recantation, refutation… I think the same thing applies to society." As a fitting epitaph to Aaron's life, author Justin Peters, recalled an event held one week after his death. A large banner was spread out on a table where people recorded memories of Aaron and messages of condolence. According to Peters, "near the end of the night, a slender boy in a plain sweatshirt who looked too young to be there came over to the table. He uncapped a marker. He wrote simply, 'We will continue.'"

  • An Important Film about a Complex Internet Pioneer's Short Life and Tragic Death.


    The Internet's Own Boy was very well-received at its showing in Austin's SXSW Film Festival. The film is simultaneously a biography of the tragic death of internet pioneer Aaron Swartz and at the same time a fascinating history of the development of the online political movements that he devoted his life to. The film tells a fascinating story of young genius deeply involved in the early development of the internet including co-founding of Reddit. His genius is unquestionable. The film really provides a tribute to a talented young man and presents a strong case that he was unjustly and selectively prosecuted and overcharged by an overzealous prosecutor. This prosecution seems to have provoked his suicide. But the film is unable to establish any real emotional distance from its subject in order to present an objective full picture of Aaron. Early scenes show home movie pictures of Aaron as an adorable precocious toddler playing with his brothers. From this beginning it is impossible to establish the emotional independence necessary to shine any sort of critical light on Aaron's life or activities. The interviews are all with his family, friends and supporters and don't really critique his efforts. He becomes a victim who despite his incredible genius seems to lose responsibility for his own actions including his own suicide. He becomes purely a victim of government persecution with no real responsibility for his own life decisions including his various hacking activities that ultimately lead to his arrest. The film really presents Aaron Swartz as a modern-day martyr for the cause of an open access to the internet that he deeply believed in and dedicated himself to. Perhaps because of his recent and tragic death the filmmaker seems unwilling to question the ethics of Aaron's hacker-like tactics. There really aren't any voices raising serious questions about whether his efforts to take the law into his own hands by downloading millions of documents was truly an appropriate form of civil disobedience. He did, in fact, steal millions of articles and violate intellectual property rights through his actions. He undoubtedly believed that what he was doing was right and just. The film is thus more of a tribute to his life and a critique of the criminal justice system than it is a balanced examination of his controversial history which deserves closer examination. The filmmaker seems to be too close to Aaron's legacy to present a truly objective self-critical examination of his legacy and his somewhat radical view of open access to knowledge and information. While it is easy to argue for that view, it overlooks the complexity of case for protecting intellectual property rights. Ironically, Aaron seems more far impressive and righteous when he is fighting successfully to defeat the SOPA bill than when he is stealing copyrighted materials. This showed his remarkable ability to organize online and unify people in a collective action that made a real difference for the future of the internet. The tragedy is that this great young activist self-destructed. The filmmaker turns his heroism into victimization and I think may actually undermine his own effort to pay tribute to Aaron. The best tributes are those that are present a complete picture rather than build-up a myth. Never-the-less, despite its flaws this is a powerful and important film that is highly recommended to begin to understand who Aaron Swartz was and to learn about the important issues of intellectual freedom online that he devoted himself to.

  • Time well spent


    I've been giving "1" ratings to a lot of recent Hollywood films, but not this one. Here is a real documentary, and it presents and honest and thorough biography of an exceptional individual. I like to bring attention to this approach , Documentary, as opposed to "Based on a true story." I am really sick and tired of the latter and the most recent abomination is American SNIPER, a warped work of fiction which some have compared to an un-animated version of TEAM America: WORLD POLICE. Usually when I see a highly rated movie that I didn't like, I come here and read the reviews sorted by "Hated it' first, so even thought I liked this documentary a lot, I decided to do that for this one. One reviewer said, "I saw nothing in Aaron but an average kid who was way over-hyped as a "prodigy" while doing nothing of real significance." Personally, I have the ability to recognize when someone else is a whole lot smarter than me and Aaron Swartz was one of those people. Watch this biography, and you'll learn a lot. Aaron Swartz was smart enough to see that one powerful Federal prosecutor was about to ruin the rest of his life, and was both gutsy and smart enough to prevent that from happening. Such is life. It's not much different than if he went swimming in the ocean and got eaten by a shark. We live in that kind of a world and always have. Aaron Swartz got more things done for the betterment of our world in his 26 years than a billion of us will do if we live to be centurions. RIP Aaron Swartz, well done.


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