Thank You Big Brother for making the world a much worse place to live. Again

RIP Aaron Swartz

Yesterday, Aaron Swartz took his own life. We will likely never know all the reasons for this, but the prosecution, even persecution, of Aaron by the US government and the prospect of a 35-year felony conviction for downloading millions of scholarly articles in a trial that would have begun in two months looms large.

I didn't know Aaron well. The only time I met him in person was in San Diego at OSCON 2002, where he struck me as a cocky, earnest, and bright person, tilting his head back to ask the taller people around him what technologies and tools they thought he should learn next. He didn't seem young, so much as just short and inexperienced, but raring to go.

And go he did. After that first encounter, it seemed like I was always running into him online. Like some illuminating flare shot from a mortar, he shone brightly enough to light up many important debates and throw them into stark relief, often with sharp, sarcastic wit, and a healthy disrespect for authority figures.

Fuck. I don't really know how to process this. He gave the world so much, with his own blend of technology, activism, building the world he wanted to live in, and whacking at the parts that were crude and and unnecessary holdovers from the past, and just plain stirring shit up that needed stirring. It may sound weird, but for all that Aaron was sixteen years younger, he was the kind of person I want be when I grow up and get my shit together.

And now, we'll never get to see what sort of person he would have become.

People all over the internet, using technologies he helped create and shape, are mourning.

+Cory Doctorow: _"we have all lost someone today who had more work to do, and who made the world a better place when he did it."

+Lawrence Lessig: "He was brilliant, and funny. A kid genius. A soul, a conscience, the source of a question I have asked myself a million times: What would Aaron think? That person is gone today, driven to the edge by what a decent society would only call bullying."

+Joey DeVilla: "That was Aaron: always fighting the good fight, running the good run. Requiescat in pace, young friend. You will be greatly missed."

+Alexander Howard: "Aaron Swartz committed suicide last night. Aaron was 26, brilliant and had already had made more of an impact on technology and Internet culture by his 21st birthday than many people will ever have in a lifetime."

Quinn Norton: "More than anything, together we loved the world, with the kind of love that grips and tears. We were fearsome creatures, chained to our caring, chained to other people."

Rest in peace, Aaron. Somehow, we'll carry on and try to finish what you started.


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