On Aaron Swartz’s twitter page is the brief description:
Other people know him personally. I don’t. I read his blog, and knew of him. The fact he considered his intellectual persona to be “applied sociologist” helped me connect with his writings, and to connect with other peoples’ writings about his political activities. It is as a fellow self-described sociologist that I feel compelled to write upon his death.
Unlike Swartz, or at least unlike my reading of Swartz, I am a strong proponent of intellectual property rights. However, it is difficult to criticize Swartz’s actions in the jstor case. For empirical reasons. By which I mean: The future of sociology publishing is on the internet. Larger, more responsive audiences await sociology on the web. So, theoretically, Swartz was wrong. Intellectual property rights matter — they are the current and future basis of not only the internet, but much of the economics of advanced capitalism itself. These rights ought to be taken seriously.
But, empirically speaking, the applied sociologist was right: because of the internet, the future accessibility of top-level knowledge will, in fact, be closer to Swartz’s vision than it will be to anything resembling even the current, much advanced condition of information availability.
Swartz’s sociology will be proven valid, in short time.