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

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The story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz, who took his own life at the age of 26.

Release Year: 2014

Rating: 7.2/10 (164 voted)

Critic's Score: 71/100

Director: Brian Knappenberger

Stars: Aaron Swartz, Tim Berners-Lee, Cory Doctorow

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.

Tim Berners-Lee - Himself
Cory Doctorow - Himself
Peter Eckersley - Himself
Lawrence Lessig - Himself
David Segal - Himself
David Sirota - Himself
Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman - Herself
Matt Stoller - Himself
Aaron Swartz - Himself (archive footage)
Trevor Timm - Himself
Ben Wikler - Himself
Ron Wyden - Himself

Taglines: Information is power


Official Website: Official site

Country: USA

Language: English

Release Date: 27 June 2014

Technical Specs


User Review


Rating: 10/10

This non-fictional film documents the devastating and mortifying story of the the late Aaron Swartz and his battle with politics and the US justice system. It's heartwarming, funny, and tearful. You'll need to sit down to watch this one.

Anyone that uses computers should watch this film!

The film implied important questions:

1. Do computer users have any rights in the United States at all? If not, do the lawmakers not know enough about computers to make them?

2. Why do US Federal prosecutors threaten computer users when the "injured parties" state that they do not seek prosecution?

3. Why does a university like MIT not protect the fundamental rights of its students?

4. Isn't the primary role of a university to protect and nourish the fundamental rights of students before teaching can occur?

5. How much of Aaron's prosecution was based on legal precedent and how much of it was politically motivated?

6. Should any amount of politics be tolerable in a legal case where someone's life is on-the-line?

7. Why is the U.S. secret service prosecuting civilians in matters not related to national security?

I cannot begin to answer these questions by myself, but someone much smarter than me, like Aaron, may have been able to.

Computer experts have historically been blamed for the mistakes of others that did not know what they were doing with technology. Experts are threatened, scared into submission, and punished for the smallest infraction. Schools, governments, and everyday people are scared of computer experts and the power they command.

This movie leads one to believe that the nation's leaders are letting their fears control their decisions about technology instead of seeking out the experts and being open about their policies. This film covers all of this and more.

It most importantly serves as Aaron's story. Aaron is portrayed as a brilliant young computer expert that won't give up. It shows Aaron from a young age up until his last moments. His family, his friends, dreams and aspirations are all present. It shows his success at business and his genius. The filmmakers did an amazing job in making this beautiful film. This a tribute to Aaron's life and work.

I highly recommend watching this film.


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