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Aaron Swartz Day to be held Nov. 8-9

November 6, 2014

Internet activists will converge on the Internet Archive in San Francisco with laptops in hand this weekend to host a hackathon in honor of late hacktivist Aaron Swartz.

In his memory, his supporters will host events around the world on his birthday, Nov. 8 to continue his work in fighting for an open Internet.

This year there will be events in Austin, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco, as well as in Berlin, Magdeburg, Germany, Buenos Aires, Oxford and Kathmandu, Nepal, according to the website.

Swartz was involved with the creation of several Internet projects including the development of RSS when he was 14, Creative Commons, Reddit and Demand Progress.

For violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, in 2011 Schwartz was facing up to four felony counts by the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, according to the initial federal indictment.

For mass downloading of academic papers from the database JSTOR while working as a fellow at Harvard University’s Safra Centre for Ethics, the indictment indicated Schwartz was about to be charged with wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer, and recklessly damaging a protected computer before he committed suicide last year as the likelihood of facing a prison sentence seemed inevitable.

The hackathon will start Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. and continue to 6 p.m. in the Great Room of the Internet Archive. All projects created will be considered open source.

After the hackathon on Saturday there will be a series of speakers and mixers afterwards, and a screening of the documentary film “The Internet’s Own Boy” about Swartz’s life will be shown at 8 p.m.
Organizers on the Aaron Swartz Day website say their goal this year is to “set the record straight” regarding who Swartz was and what his goals were in his activism.

At the Internet Archive there will be several speakers, including Dan Purcell from Aaron’s legal team, Garrett Robinson and James Dolan from SecureDrop, Cindy Cohn from Electronic Frontier Foundation, Yan Zhu from Yahoo and Kevin Poulsen, a journalist who has been investigating what kind of information the government had on Swartz during his trial.

“It’s like a dozen sculptors all working on the same block of material simultaneously,” said Robinson in an interview on their website. “It might not look exciting to a casual observer – just a lot of people typing on their laptops, drawing on whiteboards, and talking. But to a participant, there is a kind of collaborative dance going on, and it takes refined processes and care to avoid stepping on other people’s toes as you go.”

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