Early Beginning, Early End


A reader writes:

I would like to encourage the Dish to make mention of Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide this week at the age of 26. Swartz was a well-known writer, programmer and activist in the areas of copyright law and free speech in the digital age. Here are a few relevant links you can use: A eulogy by Cory Doctorow, a remembrance by Quinn Norton, a close friend and companion of Swartz's, and a piece by Lawrence Lessig. I would also really appreciate it if you would take the opportunity to promote some mental health services available to people who are suffering from suicidal depression: National Alliance on Mental Illness, The Trevor Project, and the Nat'l Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255. The Dish has such a large and powerful platform, and this is a moment when you might be able to save lives by bringing some attention to this young man and his story.

Some context for those not familiar with Swartz:

At 14, Mr. Swartz helped create RSS, the nearly ubiquitous tool that allows users to subscribe to online information. He later became an Internet folk hero, pushing to make many Web files free and open to the public. But in July 2011, he was indicted on federal charges of gaining illegal access to JSTOR, a subscription-only service for distributing scientific and literary journals, and downloading 4.8 million articles and documents, nearly the entire library. Charges in the case, including wire fraud and computer fraud, were pending at the time of Mr. Swartz’s death, carrying potential penalties of up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines.

Remembrances of Swartz are being compiled here.

(Photo by Daniel J. Sieradski)