The Internet’s Child Soldier

This is the tragic and inspiring story of “The Internet’s Own Boy.” Before he killed himself in 2013, Aaron Swartz was a child prodigy who helped create RSS, Wikipedia, Creative Commons and Reddit. In his 26 years on Earth, he fought harder for freedom of information than most journalists will in their entire careers.

Police arrested Swartz near Harvard University in 2011. A federal grand jury indicted the Stanford University student and Harvard research fellow on charges of wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer, and recklessly damaging a protected computer. His crime? Downloading academic journals. Charges piled up. Soon, he faced 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines.

Swartz’s father told CNN his son would still be alive if he hadn’t been arrested. A year after Swartz’s suicide, filmmaker Brian Knappenberger released a free documentary online about Swartz’s incredible impact.

Before we watch the entire film, here’s a quick lesson on his contributions.



Creative Commons


Watch the full movie here:

VICE interviewed the filmmaker for a podcast show. They discussed Swartz’s legal fight and the making of the documentary.

Aaron_Swartz_Graphic by ビッグアップジャパン (CC BY-SA)

Featured Image: Aaron Swartz by Maria Jesus V (CC BY)

Published by JeanetteAbrahamsen

I am an instructional designer and TV news instructor at the University of South Florida. My passion for innovating learning led me to pursue my PhD in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Instructional Technology. I love creating media to enhance eLearning and foster online engagement. I teach students to create multimedia stories for broadcast, web and social media platforms. I lead the Florida Focus class where students produce daily news shows that air on Tampa's PBS station. My reporting classes collaborated with Tampa's NPR station to produce award-winning stories. I am an Emmy Award-winning journalist. I produced thousands of hours of TV news in some of America's largest media markets at Tampa's NBC station, San Diego's ABC station and the San Diego Union-Tribune. I also produced immersive 360-degree virtual tours at the University of South Florida and reported for Hashtag Our Stories.

Leave a Reply