Oct. 24-30: ‘Hacktivist’ Film, Events for Open Access Week

Presentations about open access textbooks, a screening of a documentary on the late Internet “hacktivist” Aaron Swartz and a workshop about social media presence will make up events celebrating International Open Access Week Oct. 24-30 at WSU.

American computer programmer, writer, political organizer and Internet activist Aaron Swartz at a Boston Wiki Meetup in 2009. (Photo by Sage Ross – Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15852722)

Open Access Week is a global event to promote free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research and the right to use and reuse them. For more information, see http://libguides.libraries.wsu.edu/openaccessweek.

“This year for Open Access Week, we’re inviting students in particular to grapple with issues around access to information: what are the implications of high costs for academic materials, what choices do authors have when it comes to sharing information, who is privileged by current publishing models and the like,” said WSU scholarly communication librarian Talea Anderson. “We look forward to discussions on these and other questions.”

DTC student presentations

Open access textbooks play an important role in sharing knowledge because they can replace expensive textbooks published for profit. Open access textbooks also have the benefit of promoting emerging subjects of study without expensive course adoption rates.

WSU digital technology and culture (DTC) students will offer two presentations featuring prototype textbooks on social media at 9 and 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 24, at the Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation in Holland Library.

Because no standard textbooks exist on the subject of social media, the students’ project lays the groundwork for further development in education focused on digital literacy, Internet privacy, e-security, creativity and effective communication.

‘The Internet’s Own Boy’

Computer programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz co-wrote the “Guerilla Open Access Manifesto” in 2008, in which he said, “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…

“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.”

Four and a half years after co-writing the manifesto, Swartz died by suicide while under federal indictment for alleged computer crimes. The indictment stemmed from his mass download of academic journal articles from JSTOR, a digital repository, using the computer network at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Swartz’s life and commitment to free information are recounted in the film “The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz,” which will be screened 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25, in CUB 210. The event is sponsored by the WSU Graduate and Professional Student Association and the WSU Libraries.

The film documents Swartz’s dedication to sharing information widely, from his early work with Reddit, RSS and Creative Commons to his advocacy against the Stop Online Piracy Act. It raises important questions about the relationship between technology, information access and civil liberties.

Social media workshop

DTC students will learn about developing a professional social media presence through a workshop 4-5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26, in Avery Hall’s Bundy Reading Room. Creative Commons licensing for digital portfolios will be covered.

Workshop presenters are David Squires, Roger Whitson and Ashley Boyd, WSU English and digital technology and culture.

The workshop is part of the Passport Program directed by WSU clinical assistant professor of English Leeann Hunter. For more information, visit http://www.leeannhunter.com/passport/.

—By Nella Letizia