Civil disobedience gets its due with the creation of a special award that was announced at last week’s Forbidden Research symposium at MIT.
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As one whose early early political education, after I was old enough to quit listening to my father and think for myself, came largely from the various civil disobedience factions in the 1960s, it’s heartening to see that disobedience now has an award. So far it’s one off, but if successful might be repeated and perhaps be awarded annually. The award will also offer the recipient more than mere accolades, as it’s attached to a $250,000 prize.
The MIT Media Lab Disobediance award was announced at Thursday’s Forbidden Research symposium at MIT and was later the subject of a blog post by Joi Ito, the director of MIT Media Lab. The cash comes by way of a donation from Reid Hoffman, the executive chairman of LinkedIn, who evidently has some disposable cash after last month’s announced deal that will see Microsoft taking control of the social site he co-founded for $26.2 billion.
According to Ito, the award “will go to a person or group engaged in what we believe is excellent disobedience for the benefit of society. The disobedience that we would like to call out is the kind that seeks to change society in a positive way, and is consistent with a set of key principles. The principles include non-violence, creativity, courage, and taking responsibility for one’s actions. The disobedience can be in – but is not limited to – the fields of scientific research, civil rights, freedom of speech, human rights, and the freedom to innovate.”
Michael Petricone with the Consumer Electronics Association, has tweeted a suggestion that the award be named in honor of hactivist Aaron Swartz. On Tuesday, Mike Masnick seconded that notion on Techdirt. I’ll gladly throw my hat into that ring. MIT owes him at least that much.