Aaron Swartz Obituary


Aaron Swartz (1986-2013) speaking against SOPA.
Software developer, Internet activist.
Photo by Daniel J. Sieradski (Source: Vintage Computing).

“His suicide was “the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach”, his family said in a statement on 12 January. A tragedy, with a powerful moral.”

Marth Gill in The Newstatesman.

“His aim was to download as many pages as possible from an archive of academic journals called JSTOR, which was available by paid subscription only to libraries and institutions. That was morally wrong, he thought; the knowledge contained in it (often obtained with public funding, after all) had to be made available, free, to everyone. And it was absurdly simple to do that. He already had access to the library network; no need to hack into the system. He just ran a script, called keepgrabbing.py, which liberated 4.8m articles at almost dangerous speed. MIT tried to block him, but time after time he outwitted them; and then, as a last resort, he plugged in the laptop in the cupboard.”

The Economist.

“The web programmer and open-data crusader Aaron Swartz has been found dead in his New York apartment, having apparently taken his own life at the age of 26. Swartz made a notable impact on the web: when he was 12, he wrote his first serious programs, and at 13 won an ArsDigita prize for creating a non- commercial website. He co-authored the RSS internet syndication standard, an automated system for distributing blogposts, at 14, and then contributed to the development of Lawrence Lessig’s Creative Commons copyright system.

Later, he was a prime mover in halting the US government’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which could well have led to widespread censorship of the internet. He co-founded the DemandProgress organisation to continue the fight for internet freedom and openness.”

Jack Schofield in The Guardian.

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