Last weekend I went to Spring Green, Wisconsin for a treat I’d been anticipating most of a year: a double-bill of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at American Players Theatre. I drove home from the theater with lines and themes from the play pulling together disparate threads in my mind, such as opportune moments and their opposites, MIT’s report on its behavior during Aaron Swartz’s prosecution, the Biss bill as the latest twist in the movement toward open access to scholarly literature, and sundry other past and present information-related struggles in academe, and I want to share some of my musings.
Citing concerns about the privacy of employees and the security of their networks, both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and nonprofit JSTOR have filed motions intervening in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that seeks to obtain Secret Service documents regarding internet activist Aaron Swartz.
I never met Aaron Swartz, though I certainly knew of him. I’ve been teaching library school students about him since his 2011 arrest for sneaking into an MIT server closet to mass-download the contents of JSTOR. I learned of his death by his own hand via airport wireless, early on the morning of Saturday, January 12. Exhausted by a week of teaching a data-curation bootcamp for librarians and digital humanists, the most I could muster was a weak, aghast “aigh. no.”
UPDATED January 14, 3pm: Librarians Nominate Aaron Swartz for ALA’s James Madison Award In a new post on the Free Government Information weblog titled, “We’ve nominated Aaron Swartz for the ALA James Madison award and you should too!”, James R. Jacobs (one of the blog’s co-founders), asks readers to contact ALA and support the nomination. […]
Photo by Debora Miller When Aaron Swartz, an open information activist, was indicted by federal prosecutors for downloading as much of JSTOR as he could using a laptop computer wired into MIT’s servers (and of course without authorization from JSTOR or MIT), people’s responses stake out the extreme opposites of approaches to accessing research in […]