The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014)

After I watched Deep Web and was disappointed by it as it turned out to be more of a documentary about Ross Ulbricht, his arrest and trial rather than the dark web, Brittani from Rambling Film suggested that I watch The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz. So did I and boy it was good. 

As you probably guessed from the title, the film tells the story of Aaron Swartz. What you may not know is who he was. Well, he was a tech industry prodigy, a writer, a political organizer and an Internet activist who "killed" himself at the early age of 26. 

The film is narrated by some important figures in Swartz's life --his mother, brothers, girlfriends, colleagues and friends, World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee, to mention probably the most inspiring figure to Aaron-- and shows Swartz from a very young age until his last moments. He is only fourteen when he gets involved in the development of the RSS, a web feed format and later on, he helps develop Reddit, the social news site, and Creative Commons, a non-profit organization devoted to enabling the free distribution of copyrighted work. 

But Swartz wasn't only a tech prodigy/genius, he was also a man who had, from a very young age, a very strong moral. He was the kind of guy who stood up for the things he believed in. He believed and wanted more than anything an open access to the internet and he fought for it. Was he ethical? Probably not as he used hacking and broke the law in order to get a little closer to his goal, but is it really wrong to break the law to overcome a law that is unjust? 

Participant Media, FilmBuff
As I didn't know who Aaron Swartz was before watching this film --I do remember hearing on the news about his death and my brother saying how the US government actually killed him-- I found this documentary highly informative. It's far from being objective though. The filmmakers clearly have the same opinions as Aaron and because of it The Internet's Own Boy works great as a tribute to him and as a critique of the criminal justice system in the US but it's biased. It never questions, for instance, Aaron's ethics.

Ultimately though, The Internet's Own Boy is an interesting and compelling documentary and it's definitely worth a watch. 


  1. I'm glad you liked it! This was one of my favorite docs that came out that year. I felt awful for him, he was such a genius.

  2. I haven't heard of this film or the boy. What a shame that he killed himself. As is often the case, the friends and family are left wondering what they could have done. Often people with very high IQ's have troubled minds. what a shame

    1. Many don't believe he killed himself though. There's a whole conspiracy theory about his death.

    2. Oh brother...always it seems but I don’t know much about this so I should roll my eyes