Anonymous – The Story of Aaron Swartz

I first discovered Aaron Swartz while watching Ze Frank’s The Show in 2006. Aaron had donated a $100 for a gold ducky sponsorship link and I clicked it— and I remember thinking at the time, who has a hundred bucks for a stupid gold ducky?! But the paid sponsorship took me to his site and pretty much I knew immediately I had discovered a genius. (I only learned later that Aaron had so much money from selling Reddit).

I read his blog religiously. At one point he started a serial short story, Bubble City, about a dystopic future in which Google’s powerful reach is able to help the government spy on the protagonist — Aaron updated not quite as often as I would have liked. Later he started writing about being investigated by the FBI himself — the actual FBI. It’s surreal thinking about all the things that Aaron is and was famous for, I just liked him because I thought he was an amazing writer. Who was this person?

I was shocked when I found out he worked for Wired Magazine and got fired for reasons that were never really clear but gave me the impression he might not be the easiest guy to get along with; not to mention was going through some pretty tough depression. The comments about the Wired/Fired shirt were prescient.

Well, I don’t know the fashion in ‘cisco, I’ll admit. Also, my comment about hoping all is going to be well, on second thought, is very silly; as Aaron is brilliant and well-connected, I’m certain he’ll be just fine :)

Provided he doesn’t kill himself.

I remember thinking that one day I was going to go out of my way to meet Aaron, but at the same time, I didn’t have a clue how I was going to make that happen. I did email him once, and he replied promptly, but that was about it and I’ll always regret never getting a real conversation going with him.

I was devastated when I heard the news about him in 2013 and I still think about him every once in a while.

Here’s a documentary about his life:

Is the Future Free?

Yesterday I listened to a bit of the CBC radio documentary News 2.0: The Future of News in an Age of Social Media, (The mp3 is here) about changes to our understanding of ‘journalism’ now that anyone can create, report and publish news.

Chris Anderson, editor in chief at Wired Magazine, coined the term the Long Tail to describe the niche business strategy of selling a large number of unique items, each in relatively small quantities. He translates this model to the news industry, invoking a new kind of reputation economics, implying that monetary rewards are not the only incentives for those reporting the news. He believes “free” is the future of business.

[Anderson] believes that low-cost digital distribution has reduced the break-even price of many products (movies, books, music) to near zero. As a result, giving your product away for free has become a viable economic model.

For example, a musician might decide to give recorded music away for nothing, knowing that the widespread distribution of the latest CD would give a considerable boost to ticket sales for the next concert. The profit is made in the concerts, not the music. And in case you were wondering, no, Chris Anderson will not be giving copies of his latest book away for free.

Malcolm Gladwell thinks Chris Anderson is wrong about the future of free. In his new article in The New Yorker, PRICED TO SELL, Gladwell rebuffs Anderson’s idea that free journalism is the future of news, and that despite a growing trend of technology and other goods becoming “too cheap to meter”, it’s unlikely the future cost of our commodities will actually be free.

Update: Chris Anderson Responds to Gladwell’s criticisms.

Married to the Eiffel Tower

Married to the Eiffel tower is a BBC documentary about objectophilia, a pronounced sexual desire toward particular inanimate objects.

Erika La Tour Eiffel, like Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer – the woman who married the Berlin Wall, is an “objectum sexual”, people who fall literally in love with buildings and objects. They have sex and relationships with them; their passion as ardent as any human relationship.

The documentary subjects discuss sexual fantasy with objects throughout the documentary so use your discretion. This is part 1 of 7.

Hit play or watch Married to the Eiffel Tower on Youtube.

Part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7.

The Archive

Paul Mawhinney has the world’s greatest music collection. In it, every genre of American music is represented: rock, country, R&B, blues, jazz, new age, Broadway and Hollywood, bluegrass, folk, children’s, comedy, and more. It contains approximately 1 million albums and 1.5 million singles. It is estimated that only 17% of the music he owns is available on CD.

Every recording in this amazing collection has been purchased by its owner, Paul Mawhinney, over a period of a half century, and stored in a 16,000 square foot climate – controlled warehouse. Many millions of dollars have been invested in the acquisition and storage of the collection, the estimated value of which is now greater than fifty million dollars.

Documentary maker Sean Dunne recently met the man behind the incredible music collection. Watch as Paul Mawhinney explains his archive and his efforts to find a proper home for his life’s work.

Hit play or watch The Archive on Vimeo.

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The Qur’an

The documentary, The Qur’an, portreys Islam and its many forms, cultures, and backgrounds. The director, Antony Thomas, made waves in the Muslim world nearly 30 years ago with his documentary, Death of a Princess, a program based on the beheading of a Saudi princess and her adulterous lover, which, when broadcast by an ITV company in 1980, caused canceled contracts and threats of retribution from the Saudi rulers. It has never been re-broadcast.

Within “The Qur’an”, we see highly educated people bearing witness greater richness of their lives once they had allowed the message of the Koran into their hearts. We also see how multiple interpretations of the holy book coupled with violent extremism clashes not only with the non-Muslim world, but also within Islam itself.

Aired: July 14, 2008 on Channel 4 A ground-breaking, feature-length documentary by award-winning film maker Antony Thomas, The Qur’an asks what Islam’s holiest book actually says about issues such as equality, punishment, peace, other faiths and suicide bombing. The film is part of a special week of powerful and thoughtful programmes that aim to de-mystify, as well as celebrate, the world’s most talked-about religion and offer an insight into the lives and beliefs of Muslims across the globe. Warning: The Program contains footage of executions, the aftermath of bombing and female genital mutilations which may upset some viewers.

Running time of 1:41:32.

[The Qur’an – Google Video]

The embedded video is down. See Channel 4’s site for more information about The Qur’an documentary.

Religulous

After several setbacks (including the Writer’s Strike) comedian Bill Maher’s new documentary, Religulous, will be released in theatres October 3rd, 2008. Known for his stance against religion, Bill Maher’s views on the various world religions are explored as he travels to numerous religious destinations, such as Jerusalem, the Vatican, and even Salt Lake City. He interviews believers from a variety of backgrounds and groups, including Jews for Jesus, Muslims, polygamists, Satanists, Hasidic scholars and even Rael of the Raelian Movement.

Religulous Movie Poster

From a Variety story on Religulous:

Explaining his impetus to make the film, Maher said: “I wanted to make a documentary, and I wanted it to be funny. In fact, since there is nothing more ridiculous than the ancient mythological stories that live on as today’s religions, this movie would try to be a real knee-slapper. Unless, of course, you’re religious; then you might not like it.”

A trailer for Religulous, is online at Apple. (Also on YouTube)

Bush’s War on PBS

On the fifth anniversary of the United States invasion into Iraq, PBS and Frontline present the full saga of the war in a two-part definitive series.

Bush's War

Watch part 1 and 2 of the full length documentary, Bush’s War at PBS.

I just finished watching it. No matter which side of the political fence you find yourself on, I highly recommend this captivating review of the lies, blunders, and pride that created the war in Iraq.

Make sure you have some time to kill. The online version is divided into 27 chapters, each about 10 minutes.

Control Room

Control Room is a documentary on the perception of the United States’ war with Iraq, with an emphasis on Al Jazeera’s coverage. It makes it clear that the endeavor for unbiased reporting is a difficult, almost impossible task.

Control Room running time is 1 hours and 26 minutes. Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

[Control Room – YouTube]

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