Saturday, January 12, 2013

Aaron Swartz

Truth will out.

And my truth is that I am a big fan of the internet. For freedom of speech, for access to information, as a community in my home town and around the globe. I believe the internet is a bond and a story writ large and small for all to enjoy, prosper, and grow. I believe Internet will re-write the Social Contract. But, here is another truth. In this same internet that I so love and champion, I have been so very careful, for fear of reprisal, for fear of misunderstanding, for fear of illogical consequences and for fear of the safety of my humanity in all of it's pithy wonder and joy. I self censor in ways that I am sorry to admit.

It it because of the internet trolls? No. Is it the fear of embarrassment? Yes, but also no. I am human, mistakes and ungainly moments will arise. I will learn and grow. But more than that, it is my understanding that challenging the Social Contract online has consequences in my off line world.

I have been a supporter of Open Internet, I abhor the concerted attacks on organizations, individuals, on access to information, freedom of communication, freedom of speech, advancement of new business and social models. And, as such, I have witnessed the relentless campaigns to destroy these voices that are large and small in my pantheon of progress. I am witness to the destruction of these vehicles, these people; the slow and deliberate attacks in the form of financial ruin, social isolation, political persecution and destruction of the ego. Yes, ego. The worst destruction of all.

On learning of the death of Aaron Swartz, it became plain to me that all the ideals I hold dear for the internet, it's place in our future progress and evolution, are evolving because people are out there making change. It is not an amorphous entity, it is people, a person, a group of people, a commitment from them to us, to each other. And they are as vulnerable as you and I when they decide to stand their ground and invite us to stand with them. In my enthusiasm for change I have tended to overlook this fact in favour of a mystical online force for progress working outside of human constraint or need.

I have spent the day in fits of sadness for a person I had never met, but was, on review, in contact with daily through his various works and support of the very things I admire and hold dear for the internet as part of our evolution. This realization is astounding and it is an anchor for me because I finally accept my responsibility to understand that protection and nurturing the Internet, is a very human thing to do, and not as abstract as I had somehow let myself believe it to be. Internet is the digital expression of humanity.

We are the Internet. It is flesh and bone, dream and desire, progress and hallelujah   And I believe that what I treasure in this physical life, I will treasure online, and fight for. One of the great beauties of the Internet is that it removes physical boundaries, and that leads for further liberations in idea and potential and I say this for big and seemingly small eurekas. This is the key, it is the individual, the personal advances along with the large, global advances that are now possible in ways like never before. And they go together to make big change.

And are worth their bets in bitcoin.

The bullying must stop. A new Social Contract needs evolution.

Godspeed Aaron Swartz.