Monday, January 14, 2013

Aaron Swartz and information freedom

You may have heard that Aaron Swartz has committed suicide at the age of 26, and you maybe wondering who and how does this effect me? Swartz was a prodigy; as a teen he helped develop the code behind RSS and then the Reddit web service, which he sold for a fortune. In a way his whole life was about giving people easy access to information, an ethos he shares with many who view the Internet as a powerful force for good. Stuart Brand, a guru of the hacker community, famously said "information wants to be free," and Swartz and his colleagues acted on this. Inevitably this brought into conflict with those who want to control access to, and profit from, information. Most recently MIT and the FBI had been after Swartz. The Guardian is a good place to start to learn more about this remarkable young man and I'll leave you with a tweet by Tim Berners-Lee: "Aaron dead. World wanderers, we have lost a wise elder. Hackers for right, we are one down. Parents all, we have lost a child. Let us weep."

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