It’s been eight years. I’m still shocked and disappointed.
Unbelievably, 8 years have gone by. RIP my darling boy. pic.twitter.com/Uc9uZAQPC6
— Susan Swartz (@beadmomsw) January 11, 2021
I first discovered Aaron Swartz while watching Ze Frank’s The Show in 2006. Aaron had donated a $100 for a gold ducky sponsorship link and I clicked it— and I remember thinking at the time, who has a hundred bucks for a stupid gold ducky?! But the paid sponsorship took me to his site and pretty much I knew immediately I had discovered a genius. (I only learned later that Aaron had so much money from selling Reddit).
I read his blog religiously. At one point he started a serial short story, Bubble City, about a dystopic future in which Google’s powerful reach is able to help the government spy on the protagonist — Aaron updated not quite as often as I would have liked. Later he started writing about being investigated by the FBI himself — the actual FBI. It’s surreal thinking about all the things that Aaron is and was famous for, I just liked him because I thought he was an amazing writer. Who was this person?
I was shocked when I found out he worked for Wired Magazine and got fired for reasons that were never really clear but gave me the impression he might not be the easiest guy to get along with; not to mention was going through some pretty tough depression. The comments about the Wired/Fired shirt were prescient.
Well, I don’t know the fashion in ‘cisco, I’ll admit. Also, my comment about hoping all is going to be well, on second thought, is very silly; as Aaron is brilliant and well-connected, I’m certain he’ll be just fine :)
Provided he doesn’t kill himself.
I remember thinking that one day I was going to go out of my way to meet Aaron, but at the same time, I didn’t have a clue how I was going to make that happen. I did email him once, and he replied promptly, but that was about it and I’ll always regret never getting a real conversation going with him.
I was devastated when I heard the news about him in 2013 and I still think about him every once in a while.
Here’s a documentary about his life:
I rolled over this morning stressed out about Gabrielle and the situation as is typical these days. I pulled up Google+ on my iPhone to distract myself. I read some very sad news — Aaron Swartz had completed suicide.
I want to write about how this news has affected me. Words fail though — I’m not, after all, a master at words the way Aaron was. He inspired me. I always wished I could be him, and I always suspected that eventually our paths would cross and we would become fast friends. His death has really affected me deeply.
I am not nearly as smart or eloquent and I suppose I am glad not to have been in his situation but I will miss reading his brilliant writing.
It might seem strange to be sad about the passing of someone you’ve never met. People don’t understand why you care. The friendship was actually just an asynchronous following of his RSS feed, but his writing was one of small selection that were on my highest priority list. If he wrote something, I made a point of reading it. It’s so sad to think there won’t ever be any new posts from Aaron Swartz’s Raw Thought.
I’m not sure if it can be considered sci-fi, since Bubble City takes place in the real world involving potentially real technology, but it’s got enough techie panache and thrilling conspiracy that make it the most fun fiction I’ve read in awhile.
Aaron Swartz narrates his afternoon at the The United State Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit as Larry Lessig attempts to reform copyright law. I found this to be a very interesting look into US laws, the rights of copyright holders, and the challenge of changing the world.