Aaron Swartz was a critical protagonist and fighter for open access. Sadly, for Swartz, centralized sources of power detest such proponents of freedom. These power hungry institutions are constantly trying to win legal control over various aspects of the internet. Restriction and control of the internet inevitably results in clever ways around such imposed sanctions. Why then, do they keep trying?! Money, as usual, is the answer. And it is the responsibility of all freedom supporting internet users to demand and fight for such rights as seem necessary to uphold the open and free internet. I hope that one day the US constitution includes internet access rights.
Swartz’s vision of the internet as a way to empower the individual is a powerful force for democracy and societal progress. I suggest watching the documentary and biography, The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz.
Swartz ran into trouble when he tried to show the world how academic journal producers restrict access to their publications. They lockup knowledge and scientific discoveries inside virtual safes, where any combination of $$$$ will unlock the door. It is a shame. Academic knowledge should be shared and free to access; for a good example go to arXiv.org, also The Social Science Research Network.
P.S. I found out the other day that one of the coauthors of RSS was Aaron Swartz — when he was only 14 years old, wow! What would I do without RSS feeds!? They provide such a convenient and “simple” stream of articles, news, and updates. He was brilliant.