The ton of bricks that crushed Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz stood up for freedom and fairness – and was hounded to his death from The Guardian Sunday 7 February 2015.

For students

The film begins with a quotation from Henry David Thoreau: “Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?”

Pause and think about what this means in the context of the film. Come back to this quote after watching the whole film.

Find out about:

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), Creative Commons licenses, Gatekeeper JSTOR, Net neutrality NSA, Patriot Act/Electronic Crimes Task Forces and Working Groups, Piracy, Remix culture RSS, SOPA Whistleblowers.

Note! Always check your sources and research organisations/writers.

Now consider these questions:

  • Who made the documentary? Why? (What is the purpose?)
  • What ideas/beleifs can you see in the content? Do you agree or not?
  • How might different people see this film differently?
  • Who and what is shown in a positive/negative light? Who and what is left out (not shown at all)? Why?

Also see the post Looking at Documentaries – Media Literacy


Read the Guerilla Open Access Manifesto – discuss.

More reading: Aaron Swartz news round up from the Guardian

For teachers

1415297898_stock_save-pdfThe internet’s own boy: the story of aaron swartz (Docs for Schools, Educational resource). “This guide has been designed to help teachers and students enrich their experience by providing support in the form of questions and activities. .”
Lesson Plan: Introducing Documentaries to Your Students (Grades 7-12)  from POV: documentaires with a point of view
Common Core Standards Writing Task Lesson: Aaron Swartz and the Free Culture Movement from the school improvement network

This post is a collection of digital material which can be used for learning and teaching


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