Monthly Archives: January 2013

Aaron Swartz’s Guerilla Open Access Manifesto

Aaron Swartz is no more. But his thoughts and activism have kept the internet open

Here is the Open Access Manifesto he wrote (via the Internet Archive). Share it. Pass it on.

RIP Aaron.

Guerilla Open Access Manifesto

Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations. Want to read the papers featuring the most famous results of the sciences? You’ll need to send enormous amounts to publishers like Reed Elsevier.

There are those struggling to change this. The Open Access Movement has fought valiantly to ensure that scientists do not sign their copyrights away but instead ensure their work is published on the Internet, under terms that allow anyone to access it. But even under the best scenarios, their work will only apply to things published in the future. Everything up until now will have been lost.

That is too high a price to pay. Forcing academics to pay money to read the work of their colleagues? Scanning entire libraries but only allowing the folks at Google to read them? Providing scientific articles to those at elite universities in the First World, but not to children in the Global South? It’s outrageous and unacceptable.

“I agree,” many say, “but what can we do? The companies hold the copyrights, they make enormous amounts of money by charging for access, and it’s perfectly legal — there’s nothing we can do to stop them.” But there is something we can, something that’s already being done: we can fight back.

Those with access to these resources — students, librarians, scientists — you have been given a privilege. You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest of the world is locked out. But you need not — indeed, morally, you cannot — keep this privilege for yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world. And you have: trading passwords with colleagues, filling download requests for friends.

Meanwhile, those who have been locked out are not standing idly by. You have been sneaking through holes and climbing over fences, liberating the information locked up by the publishers and sharing them with your friends.

But all of this action goes on in the dark, hidden underground. It’s called stealing or piracy, as if sharing a wealth of knowledge were the moral equivalent of plundering a ship and murdering its crew. But sharing isn’t immoral — it’s a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.

Large corporations, of course, are blinded by greed. The laws under which they operate require it — their shareholders would revolt at anything less. And the politicians they have bought off back them, passing laws giving them the exclusive power to decide who can make copies.

There is no justice in following unjust laws. It’s time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture.

We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world. We need to take stuff that's out of copyright and add it to the archive. We need to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerilla Open Access.

With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge — we’ll make it a thing of the past. Will you join us?

Aaron Swartz
July 2008, Eremo, Italy


Detailed explanation of why Aaron Swartz’s “crime” wasn’t actually one – by the man who was the expert witness at his trial.

Unhandled Exception

I did not know Aaron Swartz, unless you count having copies of a person’s entire digital life on your forensics server as knowing him. I did once meet his father, an intelligent and dedicated man who was clearly pouring his life into defending his son. My deepest condolences go out to him and the rest of Aaron’s family during what must be the hardest time of their lives.

If the good that men do is oft interred with their bones, so be it, but in the meantime I feel a responsibility to correct some of the erroneous information being posted as comments to otherwise informative discussions at Reddit, Hacker News and Boing Boing. Apparently some people feel the need to self-aggrandize by opining on the guilt of the recently departed, and I wanted to take this chance to speak on behalf of a man who can no…

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Bukowski on “you want to be a writer?”

so you want to be a writer?


if it doesn't come bursting out of you 
in spite of everything, 
don't do it. 
unless it comes unasked out of your 
heart and your mind and your mouth 
and your gut, 
don't do it. 
if you have to sit for hours 
staring at your computer screen 
or hunched over your 
searching for words, 
don't do it. 
if you're doing it for money or 
don't do it. 
if you're doing it because you want 
women in your bed, 
don't do it. 
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again, 
don't do it. 
if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it. 
if you're trying to write like somebody 
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of 
then wait patiently. 
if it never does roar out of you, 
do something else. 
if you first have to read it to your wife 
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend 
or your parents or to anybody at all, 
you're not ready.

don't be like so many writers, 
don't be like so many thousands of 
people who call themselves writers, 
don't be dull and boring and 
pretentious, don't be consumed with self- 
the libraries of the world have 
yawned themselves to 
over your kind. 
don't add to that. 
don't do it. 
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket, 
unless being still would 
drive you to madness or 
suicide or murder, 
don't do it.
unless the sun inside you is 
burning your gut, 
don't do it.

when it is truly time, 
and if you have been chosen, 
it will do it by 
itself and it will keep on doing it 
until you die or it dies in 

there is no other way.

and there never was.

Charles Bukowski

Explain the fuctionality behind Klout users with no Topics associated with them?

My answer to online influence scores

Answer by Gautam Ghosh:

Do you really think Klout (or EmpireAvenue or Linkedin's new Skill Endorsements) reflects your real influence?
Far from it.

If you are influential about a certain topic, you will have people coming to you for advice on that topic. I am listed (by +Ks given) to be influential in certain topics on Klout, but not once have people come to me asking for advice/consulting because they saw it it Klout,

It is mostly because they heard of me referred by someone they knew and trusted or because they read my blog and decided they saw enough evidence to reach out to me.

Stop thinking of Klout and EmpireAvenue as the ends in themselves.

Here is an article by Dr. Michael Wu of Lithium on why they are fundamentally flawed as influence metrics too

The Problem With Measuring Digital Influence | TechCrunch

View Answer on Quora

How do I improve my social media presence?

Robert Scoble on how to increase your social media presence – Some great ideas there!

Answer by Robert Scoble:

Some ideas:

Improve your inbound. I spent a LOT of time organizing my friends and adding new people who are bringing me interesting stuff over the past year. Now my feeds are much more interesting. If you don't have interesting inbound it'll be hard for you to have interesting stuff to say.

You can increase your inbound easily by adding some lists, by the way. I've created several here on Facebook:

Get rid of feeds and people. Last year I deleted 11,000 people here on Quora and my feed got dramatically more interesting (I cut down the numbers of topics I was subscribed to too). Same on Instagram. Same on Facebook (you should also put EVERYONE onto a list, whether it be your close friends list or your acquaintance list. That will make your notifications better too.

Make more original content. Most social media people aren't making original content. For instance, I'm making content on:
YouTube (video):
Soundcloud (audio):
Flickr (photo):
Blog (text):
This is in addition to social media stuff I do on Google+ (at or )

Curate other people's content. I continually am clicking "like" or "sharing" or "retweeting" other people's content. That usually shows up on their notifications so they know I'm reading them, but also gives my readers a stream of awesome content.

Throw a party. Invite people who are good social media folks to it. These people will get to know who you are, be more likely to link to, share, retweet, republish, your content. Extra points if it's a Google+ video hangout that you broadcast and push to YouTube.

Be original. You won't get noticed if you just do what everyone else is doing. Can you do something no one else can? Show it off! Or, tell us a story in a unique way? I remember one guy got us all to pay attention by doing a puppet show on YouTube.

Answer Quora questions. They get pushed to social media and if you do a great job people will post those in Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/Google+.

Start a fight. I once asked Mike Arrington (founder of Techcrunch) if he was a blogger or a journalist. He answered "neither, I'm an entertainer." He often picked on people and started fights. Fights aggregate attention. We learned that in high school. A fight always got the entire school to run and see what was going on.

Do something worth commenting on. Or sharing. Or liking. What is that? It could be playing a song, if you are talented. It could be printing something on a 3D printer. It could be a new robot. A new startup. A new project.

Get some insight no one else will be able to get. For me I kept interviewing startups over the past few years and saw that many of them were talking about context. So now I'm writing a book about that. What insights are you able to see that the rest of us aren't?

Make sure your details are public AND up to date. Over on Facebook lots of people have locked down their accounts. That makes it hard to search for you. Also, make sure your details are up to date on all your social media (including that bio, your location, and your company details). Any way you can increase the chances people will find you in searches is good in my book.

Get off of social media. It's so boring to talk with people who do nothing but social media all day long. So, get off and go surfing. Or to a library and read a book. Or have a conversation with someone interesting (I've had two today and a famous photographer is coming over for sunset, where we'll go for a walk making photos).

Just some ideas. I'm looking for more!

View Answer on Quora