Like for many in the tech industry, and beyond, the case of Aaron Swartz touched a nerve with me. We live in an era where government has few boundaries and the threat of legal action carries as much consequence as successful prosecution. Tyranny is a strong word but it comes in many sanctioned forms, government regulation is perhaps the most insidious because it exists as a sanctioned form of the onerous execution of power.
The last decade has also brought with it a convergence of public, personal, and corporate identity as social networks have transformed the manner by which we can communicate with the world around us. For the most part I have no quarrel with this new reality and find the personal identity that is often now wrapped around business personality to be refreshing and useful. It is causing us to rewrite the rules in realtime as professionals adapt to living in a world where commentary that would previously have been narrowcast can accelerate into the public domain at lightening speed.
One such case of this is the tweets of Tom Dolan, a business development executive at IBM (in the social area no less) who has taken to the twittersphere to defend the prosecutor in the Swartz case, Carmen Ortiz, who also happens to be his wife.
I can find no fault with a man standing up for his wife, or vice versa, but in this case the unique circumstances of the case and the fact that it is centered on technology law make it perilous ground to air public comments in if you are an executive for a tech company. IBM has, if I recall correctly, a pretty liberal social media policy but given that Dolan is in a partner facing capacity around technology that is directly related to the tragic Swartz case, it would seem prudent to simply stay quiet.