Aaron Swartz was a brilliant man. Not just technically gifted but also socially aware and gifted in his desire to find real solutions to fix societies problems. He was dedicated, driven, passionate, and his suicide two weeks ago due to the overzealous prosecution by a federal attorney who could have put him in prison for decades is tragic, heartbreaking, and angering.
Aaron was not a criminal. He should not have been a felon. However, according to the law under which he was being prosecuted, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, he was to be treated no differently than someone who goes out and commits murder, rape, or robs a bank. Aaron's crime? He downloaded academic journal articles and shared them on the web.
Aaron Swartz's life was a testament to his deeply held ideals. It was a testament to his belief that information that benefits and moves society forward should not be encumbered or held ransom. It should be freely shared, disseminated, and easily available to everyone. Most importantly, it should never be used as a method or tool of control.
Aaron's passing still has those of us who cared about him reeling. But we will stand up, dust ourselves off, and carry on. We will carry on with a new sense of vigor, a new sense of determination, a new sense of purpose. Aaron's life, and his death, challenges us to do so. It challenges us to be better, more dedicated, more radical than ever in our desire to push humanity forward. And it's a challenge we gladly and willingly take up.
The video above is a memorial to Aaron held by The Internet Archive. Please watch it and let Aaron's life speak for itself.
Aaron, you will be missed, but you and the things you did will never be forgotten.