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.
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.