Why You Need to Back the Aaron Swartz Documentary KickStarter Project

Last week I came across a tweet from Mashable referring to a new KickStarter project that I just had to get behind: a documentary about Aaron Swartz. Now if you don't know who he is, I wrote about Aaron's passing earlier this year and his impact on the movement for information freedom. (Go ahead, take a read. We'll wait. In this instance, context is very important.)

Director Brian Knappenberger, who is behind the project also directed the hacker documentary entitled, "We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists." If you haven't seen it, the doc looks at the people behind Anonymous, specifically "the collective’s breathtaking evolution from merry pranksters to a full-blown, global movement, one armed with new weapons of civil disobedience for an online world."

So it just makes sense that he be the one to put together the film about Aaron. And it won't just be a standard retrospective; Knappenberger is quoted in this Mashable article as saying:
It’s touched people that didn’t really know him all over the world so, [the film] is about exploring why that is, why people knew about him and why he inspires people. … It’s not a memorial of him, either. It’s an investigative approach into what happened and who he was.
Honestly, I was surprised by that. When I first read about the film, I thought it would be an honest-to-goodness retrospective of his life. (And the Kickstarter description certainly supported my impression.) But if this is the spin on the story, then it sounds even better: an exploration of why people rallied behind his cause and why there were so many of us in various communities around the world who were affected by his loss.

Knappenberger explained further on the documentary Kickstarter page:
many internet activists are so frustrated with existing systems that they consider them unfixable. But Aaron didn’t fit into this category. Countless friends describe him as someone who wanted to work within the system, to “hack” or use new tools to fix problems in our society – everything from internet freedoms to health care.
Aaron lived what he believed and he symbolized a movement for many of us. I hope that this project does see light of day because ours is likely a niche community: while those of us who advocate for the freedom of information consider ourselves numerous, within the general population, we are likely a minority. A loud minority. But a minority none-the-less. And this film seems like it would be a fantastic opportunity to get the message out even more broadly.

Oh, I know, it will likely reach the converted who will flock to view it in honour of the movement's poster child, but if we each show it to a friend, colleague or relative who is not involved, then it might present us with an opportunity to further the conversation and potentially the ideas. If this comes out, you can be sure that it will play at home, for hubby and the Dude, and possibly spawn some viewings at lunchtime in the office.

So here's the awesome part: Once the movie is done, the raw interview footage is going to be released to the Interwebs with a Creative Commons license. That means that not only will be accessible without DRM, but other people will be able to use it, morph it, expand on it, generally do with it what they will. You know, in the true spirit of Aaron's message. So perfect. Currently, the doc has 3 weeks to go and it has reached 2/3 of its goal. The minimum donation is $1 and for only $15 you can receive a DRM-free download of the film. (More gets you credits, other films, e-books and other swag.) I suggest that if you consider information freedom important, you seriously consider this project.

Still need convincing? Watch the preview:



(Source: Mashable on Twitter)