Articles, Features, Net Culture, People

Aaron Swartz, Precocious Programmer and Internet Activist

January 12, 2013


It is our suffering that brings us together. It is not love. Love does not obey the mind, and turns to hate when forced. The bond that binds us is beyond choice. We are brothers. We are brothers in what we share. In pain, which each of us must suffer alone, in hunger, in poverty, in hope, we know our brotherhood. We know it, because we have had to learn it. We know that there is no help for us but from one another, that no hand will save us if we do not reach out our hand. And the hand that you reach out is empty, as mine is. You have nothing. You possess nothing. You own nothing. You are free. All you have is what you are, and what you give.” (The Dispossessed, Ursula K Le Guin)

I find this news to be very heartbreaking, and wishing hard that the people would realize that depression is a serious problem and not something that can be passed off as a mood swing. I’ve linked the available international suicide crisis hotline websites here on Wikipedia.

When I graduated from high school in the mid 2000s, there was a teen couple from another nearby high school, Burnaby Mountain Secondary, that committed a double suicide just before their June convocations. The younger girlfriend had transferred to our school just a few months earlier, and the boyfriend was a classmate and friends with my friends at his highschool. When I went to their graduation ceremony, everyone was wearing black robes in memory of him. My other online friends at the other high schools in district also shared the news that several of their classmates died just before graduation, one of them jumping off a bridge and another reported “missing.”

I think we take human suffering for granted too much in our every day lives. I know that I’ve met people who died in accidents, as the results of disease, or of the gradual progression of old age, and the people whose lives they’ve affected by their death. Every time a death occurs to someone we know, or didn’t know, I think it’s one of the aspects of our humanity to recognize the strength and fragilty of the human spirit.

Below is an excerpt from the article –

“Aaron Swartz, a wizardly programmer who as a teenager helped develop code that delivered ever-changing Web content to users and later became a steadfast crusader to make that information freely available, was found dead on Friday in his New York apartment.

At 14, Mr. Swartz helped create RSS, the nearly ubiquitous tool that allows users to subscribe to online information. He later became an Internet folk hero, pushing to make many Web files free and open to the public. But in July 2011, he was indicted on federal charges of gaining illegal access to JSTOR, a subscription-only service for distributing scientific and literary journals, and downloading 4.8 million articles and documents, nearly the entire library.

“Aaron built surprising new things that changed the flow of information around the world,” said Susan Crawford, a professor at the Cardozo School of Law in New York who served in the Obama administration as a technology adviser. She called Mr. Swartz “a complicated prodigy” and said “graybeards approached him with awe.”

Mr. Wolf said he would remember his nephew as a young man who “looked at the world, and had a certain logic in his brain, and the world didn’t necessarily fit in with that logic, and that was sometimes difficult.

via Aaron Swartz commits suicide – The Tech & Aaron Swartz, Precocious Programmer and Internet Activist, Dies at 26

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