Protecting Our Freedom

As I was reading through the latest edition of Businessweek yesterday morning I came across an Obituary on Aaron Swartz. I never knew Aaron, but like millions of others I felt the effects of his work. There was one passage in the obituary that really resonated with me. It describes the state of the internet as it is now.

“This is the tension at the heart of the Internet: whether to own or to make. You can own a site or a program – Apple’s iTunes, Microsoft Word, Facebook, Twitter – but you can’t own a language. Yet the languages make sites and programs useful and possible. You make the Internet work by making languages universal and free; you make money from the Internet by closing off bits of it and charging to get in. There’s certainly nothing wrong with making money, but without the innovations of complicated, brilliant people like Swartz, no one would be making money at all.” Brendan Greeley

Does it have to be a choice between open and closed? Between an internet where users are free to act under their own will; or one where their actions are dictated and controlled. It’s clear which internet Aaron Swartz wanted. He fought hard to repel attempts at censorship so that knowledge can flow freely to those that wish to acquire it.

It is easy to take our freedom for granted. To forget that it was our forefathers that fought to give it to us. Today we face a new challenge. We must persist in our fight to protect an open and free internet. For if we lose the battle, we lose the single greatest resource humanity has ever had.

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