The first The Internet’s Own Boy trailer has been released for director Brian Knappenberger’s powerful and infuriating documentary about reddit co-founder and political activist Aaron Swartz. A bright computer programmer from a young age, Swartz committed suicide at the age of 26 in the midst of a trial in which he faced 35 years in prison for hacking MIT’s network and downloading millions of academic journal articles from JSTOR. Swartz was a passionate political organizer who believed strongly in access to information, and was one of the key people involved with raising the public’s awareness of the dangers of SOPA. I caught the film at Sundance and found it to be wildly engrossing, illuminating, and ultimately inspiring. It examines Swartz’s life and the extent to which the U.S. government went to make an example out of someone who had a passion for sharing knowledge, and it’s a story that demands to be told. If you have the opportunity, I highly suggest you seek this film out.
Here’s the official synopsis for The Internet’s Own Boy:
The story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz. From Swartz’s help in the development of the basic internet protocol RSS to his co-founding of Reddit, his fingerprints are all over the internet. But it was Swartz’s groundbreaking work in social justice and political organizing combined with his aggressive approach to information access that ensnared him in a two year legal nightmare. It was a battle that ended with the taking of his own life at the age of 26.
Aaron’s story touched a nerve with people far beyond the online communities in which he was a celebrity. This film is a personal story about what we lose when we are tone deaf about technology and its relationship to our civil liberties.
The Internet’s Own Boy trailer via FilmBuff and Participant Media.