MIT take note please.
I think they have - in Tufte's anecdote he mentions that the AT&T security person asked "why we went off the air after about three months." The implication is that between the security guy's technical interest and the fact that Tufte wasn't hacking the phone system anymore, there was no real reason to go after him.
In Swartz's case, after the first few time MIT/JSTOR detected his activity, all they did was to (try to) block Swartz's access to the system. If Swartz had given up, that may have been the end of it. There are parallels between Tufte and Swartz but there are also differences.
(again, I am in no way saying that Swartz deserved a long prison sentence or he deserved to die.)
Finally I urge you to please watch Taren's video at the end of the linked article.
None of these accomplishments would have been possible if AT&T didn't know how to coddle geniuses.
I watched it. It was certainly touching. What specifically are you referring to in the video? Or just the whole thing?
I think it was more than just touching, and I also think that it puts the lie to anybody that still wants to harp on the case not being the prime factor in Aarons life over the last two years as well as the reason why he choose to conclude it.
There are a number of very good questions in her address, questions that have no easy answer. Especially the ones about technology being used to improve the world, and the bit about 'magic'. After all, it really is close to magic, we wield all this power and we use it in the aggregate to sell advertising and gizmos. It's certainly food for thought for me.
In contrast, from Aaron's point-of-view, what Aaron was doing was not explicitly illegal. From his admittedly skewed vantage point, he was only freeing what should be public...the FBI stalking of him after the PACER incident likely reaffirmed in his mind that information that is legally available for free will often be blocked by the powers-that-be, just because.
Of course, as we know now, his miscalculation was that JSTOR's archives were not (not all of them, anyway) in the same public status as the PACER documents.
I don't mean to start a new debate over whether Aaron was at fault for not thinking things through more...I'm just pointing out how Tufte could reasonably have empathy for Aaron despite the obvious differences in motive and execution of their schemes.
Is there any evidence that was a miscalculation?
If you mean if there was evidence whether he was wrong about the legality of distributing JSTOR documents...there seems to be some confusion about it, but it doesn't seem that many of Aaron's most legally-mindful defenders have said that freeing JSTOR was just as non-criminal as freeing PACER.
I wouldn't find it at all surprising if the various universities/journals/research bodies figure out how to make this research, much (majority) of which has been paid for by the public, available to the public.
I am one of the most "pro-ip-protection/opposed to copyright infringement" people on HN, and look down on anyone who violates producers/authors rights on commercial content - but I firmly stand with Aaron on the "Make research knowledge free to everyone" side.
Agreed, I was more responding to jacquesm than to Tufte.
She was very aggressive on her calls to make sure the prosecuting attorneys face reproach. But interestingly, Carmen Ortiz was mostly mentioned in passing. Stephen Heymann by far was the target of Taren's anger.
If anybody does read it along with the video, please feel free to send me any corrections (or change the txt file and send me a diff). Thanks!
The petition asking for Heymann firing still lacks 15.000 votes.
From what I read he was more instrumental than Ortiz in the aggressiveness the prosecution.
Not that the witch hunt is very useful in itself, but it keeps people involved and the more shit we stir, the most likely things will move.
For those who are interested in more on Joybubbles, then there's a documentary being made about him. More info at http://www.joybubblesthemovie.com/
If Swartz and his ideas were so marvelous, why is Tufte still charging any money for his work?
It's an excellent book. Not as groundbreaking (or as illustrated) as his data visualization books, but filled with interesting observations on the intersection of data and policy. He really should do a new edition of it.
Aaron was about about freeing public information.
Although he did self-publish the book later at his own (considerable) expense, where do you think the money Princeton paid him all those years came from?
If you consistently apply Swartz's idea here, Tufte is in the wrong for charging for work that taxpayers helped fund. But I have a different take: Swartz's idea is bogus.
"In 1975, while at Princeton, Tufte was asked to teach a statistics course to a group of journalists who were visiting the school to study economics. He developed a set of readings and lectures on statistical graphics, which he further developed in joint seminars he subsequently taught with renowned statistician John Tukey, a pioneer in the field of information design. These course materials became the foundation for his first book on information design, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information.
After difficult negotiations with mainline publishers failed, Tufte decided to self-publish Visual Display in 1982, working closely with graphic designer Howard Gralla. He financed the work by taking out a second mortgage on his home. The book quickly became a commercial success and secured his transition from political scientist to information expert."
Swartz obviously did not agree with that, or he would not have committed those crimes against JSTOR and MIT.
(By the way, the "private" universities, Princeton included, are only nominally private, and it's been that way for a long time. I think that should change: there ought to be a full separation of state and education.)
Today's economy is not really relevant to something that happened in 1975. Things have greatly changed since then, particularly when it comes to the dissemination of human knowledge. In today's world, a book can be published at no cost over the Internet. Scholarly articles, course notes, recordings of course lectures, and all the other methods of communicating knowledge can all be done rapidly, cheaply, and on a global scale using the Internet.
"it does not mean that the resulting work ought to belong to the public"
As Thomas Jefferson put it, "The field of knowledge is the common property of mankind." The idea that a person's knowledge should be hidden behind paywalls, or that it should collect dust on the bookshelves of a university library, should be considered disgusting in today's world. Copyright only ever made sense when it came to academic publishing as a way to promote the publishing industry, because at one time the publishing industry was the most effective system for spreading knowledge (ironically, copyright started in England out of an attempt to censor the publishing industry). The moment we created a better system -- the Internet -- we should have reevaluated the application of copyright to academic publishing, and rewrote the law to promote the use of the Internet over the publishing industry.
Instead, what we have today is a bizarre situation: the publishing industry has more power than ever before under copyright law, and the Internet is being used to further restrict access to knowledge. Publishers are using copyrights and abusing the Internet as a way to attack the used book market, and even to avoid actually publishing journals (why do we even bother with the publishing industry if they do not actually publish things?). The moral issue here is not whether or not human knowledge should be shared online, but whether or not the academic publishing industry should even be a player anymore.
"crimes against JSTOR and MIT"
That the word "crime" is even mentioned in the context of what Aaron did is a sign that our legal system has become completely disconnected from serving the interests of society. The law apparently considers the protection of the revenue stream of an anachronistic publishing industry to be of greater value than improving access to knowledge. I suppose you might say that people should just pay up or travel to the nearest university library -- and if they cannot afford to pay and cannot afford the travel costs, too bad (after all, if they wanted to be educated, why are they so poor?).
Aaron was doing his civic duty by breaking bad laws; more people should follow his example.
What you've written in regard to this point has nothing to do with what I'm talking about. See http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/mixed_economy.html.
"The idea that a person's knowledge should be hidden behind paywalls"
A person's knowledge is the result of his own mental and physical effort. The rest of the world, no matter their number, has no right to dictate that he shares his knowledge, nor do they have the right to dictate the terms that he proposes. This is because he has a right to his life. Anything less than that is slavery.
Morally speaking, a man does not owe another man a basket of picked cotton just because he happens to be black. In the same way, one man does not owe another man money, a job, a scientific article, or a movie just because he happens to be able. Need is not a valid claim on anyone's life.
A person's knowledge hasn't been the result of his own mental and physical effort since the stone age, and probably earlier. We all gain our knowledge by studying the words of those before us, and then we may be able to contribute a tiny piece to that giant interlocking puzzle ourselves.
The 'ownership' of those new pieces now belongs to publishing houses that themselves did not contribute to the knowledge.
Restricting the free flow of knowledge is unethical.
Perhaps not, but why should I be allowed to dictate to you what you are allowed to do with knowledge that I impart to you? Put another way, if I publish a paper describing knowledge I have developed, why shouldn't anyone who receives that paper be permitted to spread that knowledge further -- and if so, why not by simply giving copies of the paper to others?
"Anything less than that is slavery."
I think perhaps you missed part of the definition of slavery:
Did anyone say that anything about forcing someone to work? Did anyone say anything about not paying someone for their work, if that person demands payment? No, nobody is talking about that. What we are talking about is what we can do with the products of a person's work once those products have been made available to us.
Almost all the scientific papers that are published today are written by people who are paid to do research and to share the results of their research with others. Very few scientific articles are written by unpaid volunteers (even grad students typically receive some compensation for their time). This is not a question of paying for research, because research is already paid for and would continue to be paid for in the absence of the publishing industry. If a researcher does not want other people to read the articles he writes, he can refuse to publish -- he can take his secrets to his grave.
Copyrights are not and have never been a natural right. Copyright, as applied to academic publishing, has only ever been a system for promoting the dissemination of knowledge by monetizing a publishing industry. Researchers routinely assign their copyrights to publishers when they publish articles, losing whatever claim they had to preventing copies of the work from being made. We no longer need publishers to spread knowledge across our nation because we have a better system, the Internet, and therefore copyrights on academic work have outlived their usefulness.
The comparison to slavery is pedantic and misleading. Slaves do not have a legal option to not do as commanded by their masters; in a world without copyrights on academic work, researchers would have a legal option, which is not publishing their work.
"In the same way, one man does not owe another man money, a job, a scientific article, or a movie just because he happens to be able"
Which is fine: you are free to not publish your work. You will probably not get very far as a career researcher if you refuse to publish, but that is your problem and not mine. It is not really society's problem either, because there is no shortage of researchers who willingly publish their work, nor is there any shortage of researchers who will willingly publish their work in the absence of copyrights. Ayn Rand's notion that copyrights are a necessary function of government was absurdly misguided, but we can forgive her because as an author she profited from copyright (unlike researchers, who rarely profit from copyrights on their knowledge). Copyrights are a means to an end, and in the age of the Internet, copyrights on academic works have completely outlived their usefulness.
Your right to not teach others what you know is not in question here; rather, the question is whether or not I can teach others something you taught me. Considering that human civilization exists because we have spent generations passing knowledge along and it was only very recently that we even considered forbidding people from spreading knowledge, I would think that there is no real moral dilemma there and that the answer to the question should be obvious.
So true; the trick is in recognising and curating those few thousand.
There are issues with citation indexes, bias towards early publication &c. My comment was directed more at the 'paper mill' and the 'minimum publishable result' tendency in some areas of science!
I would have so enjoyed talking with you. Next time let me know.
Those mentors are mentors because they treat people regardless of age as equals. Yes, Aaron had his troubles. But he wasn't guided by those mentors as much as that he was guiding them. There was more give-and-take there than you give credit for, you are reducing Aaron to the level of an incompetent, he was anything but. You are also making the assumption that anybody could have stopped Aaron from doing what he felt and thought was right, I think Taren's address at the end of the linked post has few things to say about that.
> Why don't you make your pointed comment and risk a ban?
Because well over 3 decades ago I decided that there had been enough undirected anger in my life and I figured out I should put that energy to constructive uses. The whole JSTOR affair and the very unfortunate conclusion (to put it extremely mildly) has taught me something about myself, that the lid on the volcano is not as solid as those 30 years have made me believe. Dumb, insensitive and uninformed remarks about this upset me and I have to work just a little harder to stay on the right side of the line.
So I won't be taunted by you. The last time someone successfully taunted me (highschool bully, he ended in hospital and I got a 3 month suspension) it was a disaster. I learned my lesson, and chose to develop in a different direction.
> Please, I can take it and it would be refreshing to see instead of all this crap directed at law enforcement.
Have you been paying attention at all? That 'crap' is grounded in a deep dissatisfaction with the way this case has been handled, by people at varying levels of power, including some in government. It has already led to an amendment proposal of the law.
> And if you are not creeper out by some of Aaron's mentors fondly recalling his cuteness, you are not paying attention to what was going on there. And now his corpse is being repurposed for several agendas.
I think you are entirely missing the point here. Aaron killing himself has woken up a large number of people to the fact that this has gone too far.
> I'll go first and welcome a ban: fuck that.
Too bad because I'd be happy to open your eyes a bit more, I think that's more productive.
Off topic, but ftr the record "the way this case has been handled" is what has me angry. This "crap" has been happening for thirty years, but no one in the tech community (except perhaps Aaron Swartz) cared when it has happening to poor, mostly minority folks.
Have you been paying attention at all?
Yes. For a very long time.
edit: fixed error pointed out by jacquesm
You probably meant 'cared' not 'didn't care'.
I think lots of people care, but they are not capable of marshalling a significant amount of noise in the press. The press doesn't really do its job as the fourth estate when it comes to issues like these.
> Yes. For a very long time.
So have I, but I was stupid enough to get side-tracked somewhere along the line. I'm re-visiting that now, whatever it was that I did it resulted in me throwing my principles overboard thinking that I wasn't able to change things so I had better go with the flow. Worst mistake of my life, but not too late to fix.
Right now they have created a significant amount of noise in the press. And what we're mostly hearing is "fire Ortiz," "fire Heymann," "punish MIT," "punish JSTOR, and "reform CFAA" with "reform prosecutions for all" a distance sixth, if mentioned at all. Taren spoke about reforming the justice system, but only after the above list. And the press (at least NPR) has been talking about plea bargains in the context of drug and inner city crime and the leverage prosecutors have on defendants life.
I'm fully on board with trying to fix the problem for all. I'm not down with trying to only fix the problems for friends of Lessig, Tufte and O'Reilly.
That I agree with, this is a symptom of a much larger issue and that's what needs fixing. I don't even think you can fix the one without the other.
But, even if it isn't the main push everybody involved in this saga needs to introspect and determine their part in it and whether or not they were acting properly. Categoric denial is simply stupid and invites endless repetition without ever touching on reform or responsibility.
Perhaps, then, you should reconsider the people (like me) who are saying that the application of copyright to academic publications must be ended. The reason, as far as I am concerned, is simple: expanding access to knowledge and to education is crucial for maintaining a just legal system in any democratic society. The better educated the general public is, the better able they are to keep politicians in check, to fix problems like overreaching prosecutors, to reform laws that make no sense, and to ensure that minor crimes do not bring overly harsh punishments.
We cannot claim that everyone has equal access to education if academic publications are prohibitively expensive. At one time, that was a situation that simply could not be changed, because the publishing industry was the best way to disseminate knowledge and we were better off monetizing that system. In the 1970s, that changed when global computer networks that could connect low-cost personal computers became a reality; today, we can rapidly disseminate textbooks, scientific journals, course notes, and recordings of lectures and discussions at low cost. Even the poorest schools and libraries in America have computers with Internet access, and could theoretically gain access to what would be the largest library in human history if we took the time to build it. It is just one piece of the puzzle, of course, but it is an important piece.
The only thing holding us back now is, ironically, copyright law -- the very legal system that was originally meant to ensure that knowledge could be spread far and wide has transformed into a system that cripples our ability to spread our knowledge. Instead of the Internet becoming home to the world's most expansive library, it has become a system for further restricting access to information. Instead of being able to read whatever published research we want, we are forced to navigate a maze of paywalls. Textbook publishers are now using their copyrights and the Internet to kill the used book market, and are experimenting with ways to create books that students can only read for a limited time before they must pay again.
If JSTOR does indeed provide a necessary service, if they are not just leeches taking advantageous of our anachronistic approach to academic publishing, let them prove it: end the copyrights on academic publications, and let JSTOR show us how important their search service truly is by charging for access to it. I have my doubts that a peer-to-peer search service would not be equally useful and much cheaper, but right now there is no way to test that theory. If you can name something important that academic publishers and companies like JSTOR do with the money they bring in that could not be done equally well or better using today's technology, please do so (note that, at least in the case of scientific articles, the writing, formatting, reviewing, and often even editing are not paid for by the publisher, and so you should not bother naming any of the above).
So if you want to fix a problem that affects everyone, perhaps you should be thinking about that problem.
I've been on board for some time now. However...
expanding access to knowledge and to education is crucial for maintaining a just legal system in any democratic society
Yeah, that sounds good, but realistically an open JSTOR doesn't stop five poor black kids in NYC or a shitload of poor kids in Chicago from facing jail time forced on them by aggressive prosecutors via coerced confessions.
I personally would say (based on decades of trade union membership and action), 'don't go alone, random, but instead organise and take it one collective action at a time'.
The young man in question may never have experienced collective action. It can be powerful.
I feel as if the tech community is still trying to figure out the collective action thing. Maybe it's because we don't have the history of unions* like many workers in hollywood/entertainment industry do. But when the tech community did act collectively to stop SOPA, it made a big difference. I hope we can do more of that.
(* which is fine -- I don't think you can make the economic case for having them in the highly competitive tech job market. Unionization is more strongly justified in cases of bad working conditions, or a single employer with an effective monopoly on that type of job in the region)