The sad news that the co-founder of Reddit and Internet activist Aaron Swartz was found dead in his New York apartment on January 11, 2013 spread across the Internet spurring an outpouring of tributes and sympathy throughout social networking websites. A sad occasion such as this makes us remember the man who did so much to make this world a better place during his sadly short lifetime.
(Image via Wikipedia)
Aaron H. Swartz was born on November 8, 1986 in Chicago, Illinois. His father Robert Swartz was the founder of Mark Williams Company, a modestly successful software company that operated between 1980 and 1995. This provided Aaron with a stimulating environment for his innate curiosity and he became an ardent student of programming and Internet from his very early age. In 1999, when he was only 13 years old, Aaron Swartz won the ArsDigita Prize, the award given to the young and creative people who develop “useful, educational, and collaborative” non-commercial Web sites. When he was 14 years old, Aaron Swartz was a member of the working group that authored the then-new RSS 1.0 Specification.
Aaron enrolled at Stanford University, but left after only one year – he choose to start a software company instead. His company Infogami merged with reddit in November 2005. Reddit was sold to CondéNet, owners of Wired magazine in late 2006. Swartz eventually left his position in Wired in early 2007 due to creative differences. His following projects include Jottit, web.py and Demand Progress, an advocacy group dedicated to direct contact between the general public and politicians.
Aaron Swartz was heavily involved in anti SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) campaign throughout 2011 and 2012. After the passing of the controversial bill was prevented, Aaron Swartz spoke at the F2C:Freedom to Connect 2012 event in Washington DC, US on May 21, 2012. In the speech (known as “How we stopped SOPA”) Aaron Swartz said:
“It was really stopped by the people; the people themselves—they killed the bill dead. So dead, that when members of Congress propose something now that even touches the Internet, they have to give a long speech beforehand about how it is definitely not like SOPA. So dead, that when you ask Congressional staffers about it, they groan and shake their heads, like it’s all a bad dream they’re trying really hard to forget. So dead, that it’s kind of hard to believe this story; hard to remember how close it all came to actually passing. Hard to remember how this could have gone any other way. But it wasn’t a dream or a nightmare—it was all very real.”
JSTOR and Death
In July 2011, Aaron Swartz was charged by U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts with wire fraud for downloading approximately 4 million academic journal articles from JSTOR. Under the heavy pressure of facing 35 years in prison, Swartz committed a suicide by hanging in his Brooklyn apartment on January 11, 2013. He was only 26 years old.
Death of Aaron Swartz, the man who lived and died for the freedom of information is a huge loss to the world and a sad beginning of 2013.