Aaron Schwartz

The Internet‘s own boy Aaran Schwarz

Denise Raftery 1 Nov 2021 14:06

Thanks Orla, for these readings and the Aaron Schwarz story on YouTube. I was not aware of the JSTOR case back in 2013 either.

The behaviour of MIT and the power of the courts of justice and department of corrections are themes in many commercial movies but the impact here in reality was heart stopping and was certainly going to end badly. Aaron paid the ultimate price for his battle to liberate information for the benefit of all. I cannot truthfully comment on the systems of the USA but I agree with Martin D that Ireland is no front runner in open access to information such as health outcomes he referenced.

I too, was reminded of Orwell’s Animal Farm themes, Ginta!

Jaron Lanier described the corporate ‘information economy’ as one where “the winner takes all”. In ‘Who owns the Future? (Penguin2013/2014), Lanier pointed out that the system then was purposed for this capture of information in order to “make huge fortunes for a few people”.

It is interesting how the former librarians in our midst can point to the enthusiasm and hope that greeted the move to digital repositories for journals and the benefits that it was hoped would accrue. However, behind this progression was a lust for money and control by capitalists of the source materials for profit.

A few people have referenced that publicly funded research should be on public record. Ireland has not progressed in ‘open access’ to research especially when it comes to government departments and offices of local government. The system was built on ‘faoi rún’ rule and all agents/public servants are tied to the official secrets act! With FOI that is no longer absolute rule as we the public are entitled to our own information if we seek it. However, gatekeepers can still put road blocks in our way. 

I was reminded of our now revered local historian and researcher, Catherine Corless. who first brought the issue of the baby burial plot in Tuam, County Galway, to public attention. At one point in her research, she was denied access to the files buried in the Galway County Council archive on the grounds that she was not ‘an academic’.

Ultimately, she won that battle by her dogged determination not to be cowed by a public body and she did find in said archive proof of prior knowledge of the septic tank burial plot. She continues her work to this day. I doubt any government employee would now seek to deny her open access to archives because of her distinguished profile as a ‘truth teller’.

We as citizens of this country should not have to prove our ‘bona fides’ to get access to what is held on public record.

I am beginning to understand the importance of ‘open access’ in the research field through what I am learning on the course.


Hourican, Emily. Cover Story “In search of truth”: “I thought ‘there is something being hushed up’. I had to follow the path of truth, always”. Sunday Independent, 19 September 2021. People & Culture, pp 10-13

Orla Murphy      1 Nov 2021 23:10

Thanks for the fabulous example of Catherine Corless – there are so many historians, scientists all over the country – the world – who are being kept out of libraries and archives, by financial and other means, even some of us academics have historically been kept out by overzealous ‘keepers’ of specific materials.  Digitisation also overcomes access to these hard to reach resources – by making things available on the web at no cost to the public, you don’t have to go to expense to travel to the place that holds the archive / resource.