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Edward Tufte's Defense of Aaron Swartz and the "Marvelously Different" 152

zokuga writes "Data visualization pioneer Edward Tufte spoke at hacker-activist Aaron Swartz's public memorial. In his message, he described how he came to know Swartz at Stanford and how Tufte's own college hacking exploits had the potential to ruin his own life."
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Edward Tufte's Defense of Aaron Swartz and the "Marvelously Different"

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  • Poor young people (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 20, 2013 @04:10PM (#42641213)
    The stupid stunts I did back in the '80s were as bad, if not worse, both in the real world and the BBS scene. The difference is no one stored my every stunt for posterity and instant access for all.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 20, 2013 @04:14PM (#42641235)

    more like injustice amirite?

    RIP Aaron, we'll avenge you.

    So Tufte was a phreaker. He and a pal did this "longest long-distance call" thing. AT&T caught onto it of course, and a tech rang 'em up. The tech just said, don't do it again, don't tell anyone, and nothing happens. But seriously, the tech (and by extension AT&T) could have seriously ruined Tufte's life. But didn't because it was just a silly prank that didn't actually harm anyone.

    By extension, one of Aaron's legal team contacted Tufte who talked to JSTOR and convinced them not to participate in the ruining of this young man's life. After all, there was no harm to anyone, and nothing of value was lost or stolen (copies were made, which Aaron subsequently deleted after being caught).

    So, in conclusion, fuck the system.

  • by denis-The-menace ( 471988 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @04:33PM (#42641347)

    *IF* something would happen, OMG, someone could sue us!

    Today, they find ways to make you regret you were even born.

    So what's left to blow steam?
    Doing bad things because that's all there is left.

    You can't sneak into a flooded quarry to swim that's on private property.
    You can't jump your bike into a river for fun.
    OMG, someone could sue...

  • by Concerned Onlooker ( 473481 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @04:51PM (#42641439) Homepage Journal

    "Unfortunately most Slashdotters seem to support this government and want to make it even larger and more involved in everyone's daily lives."

    You must be reading a different Slashdot that I am. For instance, you should check out any post that has to do with gun control, s/w piracy or net neutrality.

    Also, Swartz's death is a sad story, but I'm a little irritated that so many people are using his suicide to further their own agendas, no matter how just they may be. He left no suicide note. The claims that he killed himself because of his legal woes will always remain conjecture. The guy suffered from depression, after all, and depression is a documented killer. Ten percent of people that suffer from it end up committing suicide.

  • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @05:02PM (#42641495)
    So what's left to blow steam? Doing bad things because that's all there is left.

    Kiddo, there are plenty of things one can do to "blow steam". If you want to do "bad" things, there are generally consequences, hence the "bad". I don't really know what point, if any, you're trying to make.
  • by anagama ( 611277 ) <> on Sunday January 20, 2013 @05:44PM (#42641829) Homepage

    You know what, maybe instead of bringing out this offtopic canard about libertarians, you should read the article. It's thought provoking. Like how in the 80s prosecutors would play a game where they prosecute the person not the crime, i.e, pick a famous person like Mother Theresa and find a crime that would put that person in jail, not because they did anything wrong, but because you're such a clever prosecutor. That sounds not like justice, but persecution.

    And how is the complaint that the government has made criminal so much stuff so divorced from common sense, entitled to some epithet about libertarians? Everyone should be worried because when everyone can be charged and sent to prison for random things, the government has total tyrannical power. That's an issue only libertarians worry about? I think not.

    Read the essay. It's only 6 pages -- takes you a few minutes. Then come back and explain what in there sounded like the ravings of a "my property GTFO" type libertarian. It contains nothing like that all -- not even a hint. Instead it talks about how the decision to prosecute and what to charge is made in a milieu of total immunity without any consequences at all, and how that decision is perhaps the most important part of the due process rights which we are supposed to enjoy, but instead we have absolutely no protection at all when prosecutors decide to get medieval.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @06:04PM (#42642009) Homepage Journal

    The great hypocrisy is that the older adults implementing all of this zero tolerance all likely have a history that wouldn't stand up to the level of scrutiny they impose today.

    The law doesn't care if you inhaled, it only cares if you had the tiniest trace of a dried plant in your possession.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @06:13PM (#42642093) Homepage Journal

    Blame also the courts that refuse to understand that their process is intrinsically harmful, even to an innocent defendant. Unlike a grieving parent, we have every reason to expect reasonable and rational behavior from our courts, but we don't get it.

  • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @06:23PM (#42642157) Journal
    Of course you're comparing two stupid young kids fooling around and someone working towards a reality where knowledge is freed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 20, 2013 @06:36PM (#42642247)

    "Kiddo, there are plenty of things one can do to "blow steam". If you want to do "bad" things, there are generally consequences, hence the "bad". I don't really know what point, if any, you're trying to make."

          Because decades of kissing ass builds up during our rebellious period. I won't say teen years because it isn't always individuals in their teenage years that are affected. You know when you think most people are morons when you point out their fallacies in their reasoning but still won't listen to you and you have to go your own way which is our way of finding things out and a partial response to the hypocritical world we've created for ourselves. Whenever you push others boundaries it's always bad in their opinion, key word opinion, the other in this case is adults/government. The fact is most things aren't actually bad, others just don't want you to do them.
          Aaron broke a few minor laws that weren't intended for his situation to bring attention to a potentially illegal scam(as far as I know most federal agencies don't allow you to double dip) being perpetrated with public funds. Never mind fully public information being restricted from the public on profit grounds. And if it's not for profit what's the point in restricting it? And what were the prosecutors doing, torturing the guy for doing the public a service to build their careers. Fact is they didn't have shit and should have dropped it when JSTOR did.

    Remember Aaron!

  • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @06:57PM (#42642405)

    Meanwhile, a socialist revolution would be (for now) deeply suspicious of any prosecution that looked like it could be oppressing the workers for the benefit of big capital.

    But, since a vast majority of socialists are basically fools who can be convinced of anything that confirms their personal prejudices, they'll continue to empower the government and continue to be surprised when "big capital" uses this power against them over and over and over again. The resulting anger just reinforces the prejudices, making them even easier to fool.

    Or we could finally learn that concentrating power in the hands of government overlords isn't helping.

Each new user of a new system uncovers a new class of bugs. -- Kernighan