If Gifted, Use it for Good or for Money

Internet is a very advanced tool that has been rapidly developed in the 21st century. Before watching the film The Internet’s Own Boy, if you ask me to name some things that related to Internet, I probably will say something like the word web below, technology, websites. However, after I watched the film, the keywords came to my mind when I thought about Internet were “gifted”, “money”, “activism”, “human rights”, “copyright”, etc. As a psychology major, the giftedness of little Aaron shown in the beginning of the film got me captivated. Aaron Swartz demonstrated his intelligence when he just started learning to speak. I remember that Ben Swartz, Aaron’s brother, described that one day Aaron came back from school when he was three, he started teaching his brother how to do algebra. Given that Aaron’s dad owns a software company, exposure to computers in his early age seems reasonable; however, his genius of using the computer and becoming a master of programming was absolutely incredible. Clearly, this kid was gifted, and more importantly, he knew how to improve and wisely use his intelligence to be creative. Then, what really got me to start thinking is that how gifted people use their special power. Do they use their power for becoming a millionaire or for the world’s good?

Word cloud concept illustration of internet web” by
Kheng Guan Toh licensed under 123rf

Gifted learner, like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, they had youthful ideas and developed them into such great innovations, Microsoft and Facebook, that a lot of people could not live without them these days. Yes of course, they gained tremendously from their business. Bill Gates was included on the Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest people since 1987. But then their contribution of improving the world came after they became rich and the contribution usually bases on their money, such as philanthropy. However, Aaron Swartz, who also became a rich man at a very young age 19 after he co-founded Reddit, was not influenced by the impact of Reddit. He suddenly shifted to become a crusader of social justice on the Internet, which money would not be helpful for him to be successful in an activism at all.

What is the most important thing that I could be working on in the world right now?” Aaron said that it is important to ask yourself everyday of this question, which I learned from an interview to the filmmaker Brian Knappenberger. Aaron Swartz brought us up to a level that we should look at the world with a broader and more critical scope. He also brought people to value the social justice on the Internet. Going back to the picture at the beginning, these words all relate to the utility of the Internet, however, Aaron’s activism led us to critically think about what rights we humans have when we are on the Internet.

Instead of focusing on Internet hot issues such as copyright, open access movement, I was much more inspired by how Aaron brought us to look at the Internet from a very different perspective.