The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

Synopsis: 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.
Director(s): Brian Knappenberger
Production: FilmBuff and Participant
  4 wins & 3 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
105 min

"How come...Mommy,

why is nothing working?"

He started programming from

a really young age.

I remember the first program

that I wrote with him was in BASIC,

and it was a Star Wars trivia game.

He sat down with me in the basement,

where the computer was,

for hours, programming this game.

The problem that I kept having with him is

that there was nothing that I wanted done,

and to him, there

was always something to do,

always something that

programming could solve.

The way Aaron always saw it, is that

programming is magic.

You can accomplish these things

that normal humans can't.

Aaron made an ATM using like a Macintosh

and like a cardboard box.

One year for Halloween,

I didn't know what I wanted to be,

and he thought it would be really, really cool

if I dressed up like his new favorite computer,

which at the time was the original iMac.

I mean, he hated dressing up for Halloween

but he loved convincing other people

to dress up as things that he wanted to see.

"Host Aaron, stop!

Guys, come on, look at the camera!"

"Spiderman looks at the camera!"

He made this website called The Info,

where people can just fill in information.

I'm sure someone out there knows

all about gold, gold leafing...

Why they don't write about that on this website?

And then other people can come at a later point,

and read that information, and edit

the information if they thought it was bad.

Not too dissimilar from Wikipedia, right?

And this was before Wikipedia had begun,

and this was developed by a 12-year-old,

in his room, by himself, running on this

tiny server using ancient technology.

And one of the teachers responds,

"This is a terrible idea, you can't just

let anyone author the encyclopedia!"

"The whole reason we have scholars

is to write these books for us."

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Brian Knappenberger

Brian Knappenberger is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, known for The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists, and his work on Bloomberg Game Changers. The documentary film We Are Legion (2012) was written and directed by Knappenberger. It is about the workings and beliefs of the self-described hacktivist collective Anonymous.In June 2014, The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz was released. The film is about the life of internet activist Aaron Swartz. The film was on the short list for the 2015 Academy Award for best documentary feature.Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press was released on Netflix in June 2017, after debuting at the Sundance Film Festival. It follows professional wrestler Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker Media, and the takeover of the Las Vegas Review-Journal by casino owner Sheldon Adelson.Knappenberger has directed and executive produced numerous other documentaries for the Discovery Channel, Bloomberg, and PBS, including PBS' Ice Warriors: USA Sled Hockey. He owns and operates Luminant Media, a Los Angeles based production and post-production company. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018


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