The Geeks of Change

Geeks of Change

By: Daniel Jeffers - Search Engine Optimization - 2015

Yesterday I saw an article, Geeks are the New Guardians of Our Civil Liberties, from the MIT Technology review. I didn't have time to read it, but I saved it for later.

Last night I went to a memorial event for Aaron Swartz, that was also somewhat of a political rally. It was held in one of the House office buildings. Today, I finally got around to reading the article and discovered the author had been motivated by a previous memorial for Aaron Swartz, held in a different city:

The depth, extent, and especially diversity of this geek political movement was made evident to me just recently, not at an official political event but at a memorial service that doubled as an informal political rally.

I had a similar impression. I've been aware of the activist power of Geek culture for some time now, but this seemed to hit a new level. One thing that really struck me was how certain progressive groups and consertive groups are finding common ground on technical issues. Aaron Swartz helped found a progressive group called Demand Progress, and the executive director from that group spoke at the memorial. But he had also worked with a conservative group, TechFreedom, and Berin Szoka, president of TechFreedom, spoke as well.

There was some brief tension, as a couple loud hecklers interrupted Szoka's comments. But a woman, who turned out to be the partner of Aaron Swartz, stood up and asked everyone to be silent as she wanted to hear what the speaker had to say. That got a big round of applause, indicating the crowd largely agreed. There were no further interruptions. You could still feel some tension, Szoka's views were not the same as those of most in the crowd. But you could also see that he was adding something to the conversation, and a lot of people seemed to understand the value of what he added.

To me, this is an encouraging sign. Though politics in general seems to be highly polarized, there is one sphere where people from both sides are working together.