Before the pandemic I lived a computer life in many ways. However, since March, what was once a lot of time online has become a lot more. Reflecting on this in recent days has brought me to some old subjects that are relevant today. In fact, the present-day relevance shows just how prescient they were years ago. They are subjects that revolve around privacy, our government, and the role of technology.
The first is the story of Aaron Swartz. Below you will find a documentary about his life, his ideals, and his quest to keep the technology for the people. Thinking about Swartz brought me to reading Corey Doctorow’s recent novel Attack Surface. Science fiction -the category booksellers use for this book- is not usually where I spend a lot of time. However, I enjoy Doctorow’s depictions of what technology is capable. I am only a quarter of a way through the book, but his protagonist’s navigation between using her hacker skills to defend protestors one day and to prosecute them the next, is a provocative way to push the ideas and ideals that Swartz defended into our current conversation. Swartz warned us about the internet’s power. It is now more present in our lives than ever and we should be thankful for many reasons. However, this tense trade where we receive a useful tool and sacrifice our privacy deserves reflection.