NYC Tech Community Reacts to Aaron Swartz’s Death

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On some website, mourning over the death of Aaron Swartz, the software developer and internet rights activist, has turned into a debate over access to information online.  New York’s tech community has been firmly on the side of Swartz and his open ideology.

The 26 year-old prodigy committed suicide in his Brooklyn home last week. He was to be tried in the upcoming months on charges of stealing millions of online articles from MIT.

Here's a sample from websites based in New York on Swartz’s passing, work, and beliefs:

“Developing code, however, was far from Swartz's only fixation. He was a dedicated believer in the open-source/open-code/open-web ideology, working on causes such as net neutrality and data liberation while also helping to bring about the Creative Commons content licensing structure.”

Micah L. Sifry, Tech President
“If coders are the unacknowledged legislators of our new digital age, then Aaron was our Thomas Paine--an alpha geek who didn't use his skills just to get more people to click on ads, but tried to figure out how to change the system at the deepest levels available to him. He accomplished much in his 26 years, but he had so much more promise.”

From Jay Rosen, NYU Journalism Professor
“This person of immense talent and crazy brilliance devoted himself almost completely to public goods— like the RSS 1.0 specs, the Open Library, and the fight against SOPA. He could have tried to develop the next YouTube and sell it to Google for a billion dollars, he had the skills for that, but the only thing that really mattered to him was the fight for internet freedom, which included taking part in democratic politics. That conception of the good, in someone so young, is deeply moving to me.”

Tech Crunch

“An online tribute to Aaron Swartz, the 26-year-old activist who helped create RSS and committed suicide this past week, has attracted more than 1,500 links to research and academic papers. The site with the full list of links and research is here.


"A fitting tribute to Aaron might be a mass protest uploading of copyright-protected research articles. Dump them on Gdocs, tweet the link. Think of the great blu-ray encoding protest but on a bigger scale for research articles.  Edit: someone took the initiative- it's happening!! Post your papers to hashtag #pdftribute"