Aaron Swartz, R.I.P.

Aaron Swarz
Aaron Swartz

I was sad to hear about the suicide of Aaron Swartz, the remarkable guy who developed the online syndication/feed  format RSS, helped found the social news aggregation site Reddit, was involved in Internet activism and other political activism, and did a ton else besides.  He was facing federal charges, and aggressive prosecution (he faced 30 years in prison and a million-dollar fine)  for downloading academic articles from the online digital library JSTOR with the intent of making them publicly available.  An official statement by his family and partner says that his suicide was “the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.”

Here are a few links related to him:

Remember Aaron Swartz, a page his family set up. You can make donations in his name and post remembrances there.

Aaron Swartz’s Twitter page, where you can see that his last tweets were about the idea of minting a platinum coin to get around the debt-ceiling impasse, and more generally about monetary policy.

Aaron Swartz’s Politics, a great piece by Matt Stoller of Naked Capitalism, which reflects on the breadth of his political commitments, which went way beyond Internet freedom.

How to Get a Job Like Mine, from one of his blogs, from 2007 (so he was 21 or so).

Lean into the pain, from his website, about procrastination.

A video of an  interview with two comrades of his, on the Real News Network.

A tribute and analysis by Louis Proyect, with reflections on the JSTOR case.

Aaron Swartz Memorial JSTOR Liberator.  Do some civil disobedience in his spirit by using this site’s widget to make a JSTOR article public. I did it–it was some esoteric chemistry article (I’d thought JSTOR was humanities and social sciences?). (JSTOR didn’t want Swartz prosecuted; MIT and the feds went ahead anyway.)

From Russia Today, Prosecutor pursuing Aaron Swartz linked to suicide of another hacker.  Massachusetts Assistant US Attorney Stephen Heymann sounds like a scoundrel.

Ok, that’s it for now.  The Matt Stoller piece is especially worth reading.  I will likely have more to post about Aaron tomorrow, and I have a bunch of other stuff to post on.

–Chris Sturr

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