Web of Illusion
Aaron Swartz, a 26-year-old computer programmer and “hacktivist” who hanged himself in January, once issued something called the “Guerilla Open Access Manifesto.” The brief and dramatic document is a call to liberate all scientific papers—and maybe even all cultural works—currently “locked up by a handful of private corporations,” by making them freely and universally available on the Internet. As Swartz saw it, “sharing isn’t immoral—it’s a moral imperative.” He called on an army of “those who have been locked out” by publishers, libraries, and universities not only to oppose “the privatization of knowledge” but also to “make it a thing of the past.” He was 19 years old when he wrote it.
About the Author
Abe Greenwald is senior editor of COMMENTARY.