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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A young life cut short, a protest remembrance

Aaron Swartz2008
Wikipedia image
Who was Aaron Swartz?
 Notes edited, end comment by Carolyn Bennett

The eldest son of Susan and Robert Swartz, the latter founder of the software firm Mark Williams Company, Chicago-native Aaron Swartz was a high school dropout and an American computer programmer, writer, political organizer and Internet activist who in 2013 was found dead in his Brooklyn, New York, apartment, having “hanged himself.”

Swartz contributed to the development of the web feed format RSS, the organization Creative Commons, the website framework web.py, and the social news site, Reddit, in which he became a partner after its merger with his company, Infogami. He then “focused on sociology, civic awareness, and activism”: founded Watchdog.net, “‘the good government site with teeth,’ to aggregate and visualize data about politicians”, and wrote Open Access Guerilla Manifesto (2008); helped launch Progressive Change Campaign Committee “to learn more about effective online activism” (2009); conducted research studies on political corruption (academic year 2010-2011 at Harvard University).

Aaron Swartz2012Wikipedia image
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) police on January 6, 2011, arrested Swartz. The charge was “state breaking-and-entering” for having “systematically download[ed] academic journal articles from JSTOR” (pronounced jay-stor, short for Journal Storage, a digital library founded in 1995). “Federal prosecutors later charged him with 2 counts of wire fraud and 11 violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.” These charges carried cumulative penalties of “$1 million in fines, 35 years in prison, asset forfeiture, restitution and supervised release.” In 2013, two days after the prosecution denied his counsel’s “second offer of a plea bargain, Aaron Swartz was found dead in his Brooklyn, New York, apartment, where he had hanged himself.”

he vast majority of people could live a thousand years and never come close to the accomplishments of this young man. A brilliant life cut short: Aaron Hillel Swartz, November 8, 1986 – January 11, 2013). Murderers commit high crimes, retain their high offices, and get off scot-free. How sad.

Sources and notes

Wikipedia biographical notes on Aaron Swartz, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Swartz
Also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JSTOR

Today “The Day We Fight Back”: broad coalition of activist groups, companies, and online platforms hold a worldwide day of activism in opposition to the NSA’s mass spying regime; in remembrance of activist, technologist Aaron Swartz; protest “in his honor, in celebration of victory over the Stop Online Piracy Act he helped spur” https://thedaywefightback.org/press/

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