Monday, January 28, 2013

Protecting Online Freedom as the Internet Turns 30

Originally published by the Seattle Times

THE Internet turned 30 earlier this month. On Jan. 1, 1983, engineers launched the basic protocol for sharing bits between computers, setting in motion the networked world we live in today.

It’s during anniversaries like these that we have a chance to take stock of this remarkable network and the people who make it what it is.

As the Internet enters its middle years, we users can no longer take it for granted. It’s more than a cloud. It’s people, technology and physical infrastructure. As with any infrastructure, the Internet needs protection and maintenance to survive; otherwise the wires and signals that send digital communications will cease to function. The online community also needs protections — to prevent our ideas from being blocked, our identities from being hijacked and our wallets from being picked.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Aaron Swartz: Looking Forward

With Aaron in NYC during last year's PIPA/SOPA protests. Photo: Gilly Younger/Flickr 
It's been five days since Aaron Swartz took his life in New York City, and a day since his funeral. The tragic news has both outraged and saddened the Internet community and beyond.

Aaron's story resonates with so many people. It has elements of classic lore: a young, often misunderstood genius, persecuted by corrupt authority, takes his life before his good work can be realized.

Perhaps even more tragically, it has taken Aaron's death for many to understand and protest the injustices he faced. It's right to critique a U.S. prosecutor's office that bullied Aaron to a point of desperation. But we should also focus attention on his good work, which was rooted in the belief that openness and access to knowledge are essential to social justice and a healthy democracy.