As part of open access week, many organizations and institutions are sponsoring screenings of Brian Knappenberger’s documentary film “The Internet’s Own Boy.” But, if you ask most academics not studying the Internet (in other words, the majority) what they know about Aaron Swartz, and they probably don’t know much. They probably know that he was under indictment by the federal government, that he took his own life, and they probably think he was a “hacker,” but are vague on details beyond that.
What most academics don’t know is why what Swartz’s life – and death – are incredibly relevant for the everyday work of scholars.
Swartz was by many accounts a prodigy, possibly even a genius, and he had something of a prophetic vision for the importance of open access for the public good and how academic publishing stands in the way of this.
From my perspective, Knappenberger’s documentary offers one of the clearest explanations, through Aaron Swartz’s story, about why academics should care about open access.
If you do one thing for open access week, catch a screening (or watch it online). Here are couple of NYC-area screenings:
- Thursday, October 23, 6pm. Barnard College’s Lehman Auditorium (202 Altschul), located in Altschul Hall, open to all. Co-sponsors: Center for Digital Research and Scholarship, Barnard Library & Academic Information Services, the Digital Humanities Center, the Digital Science Center, and the Digital Social Science Center.
- Friday, October 24, 3-5pm. Borough of Manhattan Community College, Rm N780. Snacks will be served. RSVP not required. Open to all. Co-sponsors: LACUNY Scholarly Communications Roundtable & JustPublics@365 .
And, appropriately enough, the documentary is available on the open web (you can buy it through iTunes if you want to support the filmmaker).