It was with a shock of emotions beyond articulation that I read this morning that Aaron Swartz killed himself yesterday.
I first met Aaron when he was 14 or 15, at a conference where he was being consulted by graybeards with technical questions. I kept in touch, and followed his activities. Aaron was a prodigy not only of technology but of democracy. Every single project he undertook aimed at improving the public sphere — more open, with lower barriers, richer connections, better information, and less corruption. He wanted the public sphere to be more of us and be more ours.
I was so looking forward to watching him continue to grow, invent, and contribute. I admired him, and I enjoyed his company, and I didn’t ever want to have to use the past tense in talking about him. The future was so much more appropriate.
Cory Doctorow writes movingly and clearly about Aaron’s here.
I am so sorry for his family, for his friends, for all of us who knew him, and for those who did not have that chance.
Young Aaron (14-15 years old) with Larry Lessig
Here’s something I just posted at Reddit:
Aaron was a hero of the Internet.
Everything he did in his way too short life was aimed at making the connected world more open, with lower barriers, richer connections, more knowledge, more sharing, and less corruption. Consider Aaron’s work on standards for sharing ideas, his commitment to progressive and bottom-up politics, his efforts to provide free access to public domain court records), his work against corruption in politics, his contribution to the struggle against SOPA, the app he wrote for making it easier to create blogs and wikis (acquired by Reddit), his commitment to open information. And more.