January 16, 2013

Aaron Swartz, requiescat in pace

I can't claim he was a close friend. We knew each other through a correspondence which began in 2006. We only met face to face once, when I was able to break away from a conference in the city he was living in for an afternoon of conversation. He was the same modest, charming, morally serious, funny and multi-facetedly brilliant young man in person that he was on paper.

For whatever unfathomable reason, he liked my posts. For my part, when I write I try to imagine the reaction of an ideal audience of a few people, and Aaron was one of them. More: I've often asked myself why I don't do as much to act on my convictions as he did; he pricked my conscience. If, on Friday morning, you'd asked me which, if any, of my acquaintances would ever be remembered as a great American, I'd have named him without even thinking about it. Who else was so ridiculously accomplished at such an age, so devoted to good principles without being a prig, so focused on removing the real stumbling blocks to progress?

I have been angry with Aaron, off and on but always stupidly, ever since I heard the news. But I am furious at the idiots who hounded him to death for the sake of the profits of parasites, and the restriction of knowledge.

Linkage

Posted by crshalizi at January 16, 2013 23:35 | permanent link

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