Seems everyone is lionizing Aaron Swartz. Aaron is someone I was acquainted with peripherally through mutual friends at One Laptop. He was, and remains, my friend on Facebook. I have to say aaronsw is not my hero.
If I thought it was justified to take all the documents in JSTOR I would have done when I was the sysadmin for the company that wrote the first interface to it. I don’t and I didn’t. I never even looked at a single document and I had root on everything.
Same is true for the American Mathematical Society and about a million of their documents I worked on the public interface for back in the 80’s. Never looked at a one.
Aaron was very charismatic, brilliant, and had a lot of good ideas. But he also according to what has come out, acted incredibly stupidly in the whole scenario with JSTOR and MIT. They kept blocking him and he kept coming back. Hello, clue?
But maybe he thought of this as civil disobedience and in some sense meant to get caught. If so I think he totally wimped out rather than doing the six months they offered him or going to trial and potentially taking a draconian sentence.
Not to say I think he was treated fairly. Given that JSTOR and MIT saw no reason to prosecute (or that’s the official story at MIT now anyway), and that there is apparently no evidence that documents were ever exfiltrated off-site or published if I was the prosecutor I would have exercised discretion and taken a pass on this one. No harm, no foul.
It worries me that Aaron is being made out to be a hero who deserves to be be emulated. He wasn’t, and he doesn’t.
Copyright © 2014 Henry Edward Hardy
Response to ‘Netbooks: our modern-day Tower of Babel’
Dear Ashley Dresser,
I am writing to comment on your column, Netbooks: our modern-day Tower of Babel, published 9/13/2009 at http://www.mndaily.com/2009/09/13/netbooks-our-modern-day-tower-babel
I am the former senior systems administrator for One Laptop per Child (OLPC). I am speaking only for myself.
When I worked for OLPC, it had about 23 employees. How do you realistically propose that we would have provided individual training, “One Trainer per Child” as you put it, to over 700,000 users? That is the job of the country or nonprofit managing the deployment, not OLPC.
Each country and region has its own culture and pedagogical standards and methods. OLPC cannot dictate to Mongolia, Peru, Uruguay, Nepal, etc. how they should use the laptops or how they should teach.
You say, “American customers often experience delays in receiving their laptops and among delivery to those in need, several thousand orders have been reported lost or stolen.”
There are no American customers aside from some local deployments. The Give One, Get One promotion ended nine months ago. Did you not know this?
You say that several thousand orders have been reported lost or stolen. Where and when? If this happened, how is it the fault or responsibility of OLPC?
Why are you so hostile and ill-informed toward such a wonderful and brilliant program? You could do better, I suppose?
I am very proud of the time that I spent at OLPC, and I have never met a more brilliant, caring, hard-working, and committed group of people anywhere. They, and the world’s children, deserve better from you.
I will be posting this letter, and your response should you care to provide one, on my blog at https://scanlyze.wordpress.com .
Henry Edward Hardy
Copyright © 2009 Henry Edward Hardy
Here’s a new promotional slideshow/video from One Laptop Per Child:
NB: I am the sysadmin for OLPC.
Copyright © 2008 Henry Edward Hardy