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Aaron Swartz, the Internet Hacktivist we lost.

I would like to dedicate this article to Aaron Swartz, the Hacktivist we lost recently. I might not be able to enlighten all his works and what all he did, but from what all I read on the Internet, he was an Internet activist, a Software developer, Technologist and what not…



First of all I would like to tell that he was an Internet activist who was involved in creation of many technologies. His father was an entrepreneur who founded a software company back in 1980`s which was later discontinued in 1995. As a son from the Internet family, he was interested in computers since childhood. He was a prodigy who had excelled in many of his works and competitions. When he was 14 he won a competition which lead him to a trip in MIT where he met the other programmers almost double his age. There (MIT) he qualified work with a group which created the RSS. He is still known as the key person who was involved in perfecting the RSS feeds which were non-existent since years then. He also served on the RDF (Resource Description Framework) at W3C and also as an author to take up all the feedbacks. He also contributed to the Web Application Framework for which he will be remembered till the Internet is alive on any system.

 He went to Stanford University but later after an year he left and then founded a company named Infogami with the funds he got because of his reputation from Y Combinator. Thereafter his startup company Infogami was merged with Reddit and he got an equal share as he had in his company. He created the Web Application Framework and also founded the company Demand Progress. He worked against the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) but was not against the copyrighting of content. Before the bill for SOPA was passed, he opposed the act stating that “Internet is an open space which should never be capped”. He stated that as far as the copyrights are concerned, the respective sites should be blocked or permanently taken down but a law such as SOPA and PIPA should not be implemented. When the SOPA law was passed, he became very depressed and blogged about his depression related to Internet issues.

 He volunteered himself as an active editor of Wikipedia and also was nominated to become the board member of Wikimedia Foundations which he lost but still remained as one of the pro founding people in the Wikipedia.


What caused him to lead his life to death???

 He was recently accused of downloading research papers from MIT website without paying the charges for the Journal issued. Those article were found to be worth millions and he was sentenced to 35 years of jail and $1 milion+ in damages from the university. After having his first hearing and letting know of the charges and the years of sentence he had to persue, on 11th Jan 2013 he created suicide hanging himself in his own apartment in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, NY.


As stated by his parents and close ones, including a small part of his obituary

 Aaron`s commitment to social justice was profound, and defined his life. He was instrumental to the defeat of an Internet censorship bill; he fought for a more democratic, open and accountable political system;  and helped to create, build, and preserve a dizzying range of scholarly projects that extended the scope and accessibility of human knowledge. He used his prodigious skills as a programmer and technologist not to enrich himself but to make the Internet and the world a fairer, better place. His deeply humane writing touched minds and hearts across generations and continents. He earned the friendship of thousands and the respect and support of millions more.

 Many other people close to him and who all worked with him took stand to make his death an event not to be disheartened of, but to take their lives ON and OFF the Internet in such a manner that the young legend lead his. He never bowed down to the wrong and never got down for the right.

Views on conviction by some people whose words needed some attention: (Information stated below copyrights courtesy: Wikipedia)

 MSNBC contributor Chris Hayes criticized the prosecutorial rationale, saying “You should also know that at the time of his death Aaron was being prosecuted by the federal government and threatened with up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines for the crime of — and I’m not exaggerating here — downloading too many free articles from the online database of scholarly work JSTOR.”

 Demand Progress, a group Swartz co-founded, characterized the indictment as “trying to put someone in jail for allegedly checking too many books out of the library.”

 On January 12, 2013, Alex Stamos, a computer forensics investigator employed by the Swartz legal defense team, posted a summary online of the expert testimony he had been prepared to present in the JSTOR case, concluding, “I know a criminal hack when I see it, and Aaron’s downloading of journal articles from an unlocked closet is not an offense worth 35 years in jail.”

 Swartz’s father is an intellectual property consultant to MIT’s computer lab. Elliot Peters, Swartz’s attorney, said his father was “outraged by the university’s handling of the matter, believing that it deviated from MIT’s usual procedures”. The family and partner of Swartz created a memorial Web site on which they issued a statement, saying, “He used his prodigious skills as a programmer and technologist not to enrich himself but to make the Internet and the world a fairer, better place.”

 Swartz was eulogized by his friend and sometime attorney, Lawrence Lessig, calling his prosecution an abuse of proportionality and noting, “the question this government needs to answer is why it was so necessary that Aaron Swartz be labeled a ‘felon’.”

 Swartz’s funeral services were held on January 15, 2013, at Central Avenue Synagogue in Highland Park. Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web and perhaps Swartz’s most admired role-model, delivered a eulogy at the service.

 Members of Anonymous hacked a website on MIT’s domain, replacing the title page with a tribute to Swartz, calling on members of the internet community to use Aaron’s death as a rallying moment for the open access movement.

My condolences to the young Hacker…..Not all Hackers deserve my respect but this great guy just took it away from me…..:)

 At last I would like to pay my humble tributes to the great Internet Computer Scientist who would now be in the list of people I respect. I know this article may or may not reach any of your (Aaron Swartz) appreciators but all my heartily respects to you.

 Whatever reformations you had done for the betterment of Internet, I and all your admirers would try to keep upto the standards and try to implement them wherever we can.

 I feel that everyone who use Internet in daily life or even occasionally need to read this article as it is dedicated to the person who created it a better place for all of us to dwell, so please share it. Please write back to me if you would like to revert me with anything you want me to know….. 🙂

Categorised as: Personal | Technology

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