“Aaron dead. World wanderers, we have lost a wise elder. Hackers for right, we are one down. Parents all, we have lost a child. Let us weep.”

–Tim Berners-Lee

Aaron H. Swartz

A moment of silence for one of the best amongst us,

Com­puter act­iv­ist Aaron H. Swartz com­mit­ted sui­cide in New York City yes­ter­day, Jan. 11, accord­ing to his uncle, Michael Wolf, in a com­ment to The Tech. Swartz was 26.

The tra­gic and heart­break­ing inform­a­tion you received is, regret­tably, true,” con­firmed Swartz’ attor­ney, Elliot R. Peters of Kecker and Van Nest, in an email to The Tech.

Swartz was indicted in July 2011 by a fed­eral grand jury for allegedly mass down­load­ing doc­u­ments from the JSTOR online journal archive with the intent to dis­trib­ute them. He sub­sequently moved to Brook­lyn, New York, where he then worked for Avaaz Found­a­tion, a non­profit “global web move­ment to bring people-powered polit­ics to decision-making every­where.” Swartz appeared in court on Sept. 24, 2012 and pleaded not guilty.

The accom­plished Swartz co-authored the now widely-used RSS 1.0 spe­cific­a­tion at age 14, was one of the three co-owners of the pop­u­lar social news site Red­dit, and com­pleted a fel­low­ship at Harvard’s Eth­ics Cen­ter Lab on Insti­tu­tional Cor­rup­tion. In 2010, he foun­ded DemandProgress.org, a “cam­paign against the Inter­net cen­sor­ship bills SOPA/PIPA.”

Updates

  1. Cory Doc­torow writes a mov­ing trib­ute to Aaron at BoingBoing.
  2. Spicy IP has writ­ten a trib­ute as well.
  3. There are now count­less trib­utes to Aaron online. This blog is com­pil­ing the note­worthy ones. I have been spend­ing much time read­ing them.
  4. Aca­dem­i­cians lib­er­ate their journ­als in trib­ute to Aaron.