All in the name of good

January 13, 2013

I was very saddened to hear the news about Aaron Swartz, who January 11th took his own life. The reasons for the far too early good bye from the child prodigy are a political issue as much as anything else, and it has already been covered well by many. While politics and societal factors are a horrible reason for a young person's farewell, what really got to me is the feeling described by his friend, Lawrence Lessig (please read the entire post for context):

No doubt it is a certain crazy that brings a person as loved as Aaron was loved (and he was surrounded in NY by people who loved him) to do what Aaron did. It angers me that he did what he did.

A couple of years ago I got very close to having to go through the exact same reflections and rationalizations that Aaron's friends and family must now go through. Every time I hear those same feelings expressed, I'm struck by an almost indescribable panic that forces me to stop whatever I'm doing and spend that much needed time asserting that everything is at least okay. I sincerely wish that on no one, and no matter the reasons, we should all make it a part of the agenda to build a society where this "last resort" kind of action is neither an option nor necessary.

I did not personally know Aaron Swartz, but his systematic work on liberation of information and creative works has been a great influence and inspiration for myself, just as his unstopable drive to share and defend his opinions and beliefs has been nothing but incredible and empowering to follow, which more than once made me wish that I was at least a little like that. Mine and many other's fascination with and respect for Aaron Swartz is probably best encompassed by Lessig:

Aaron had literally done nothing in his life “to make money.” He was fortunate Reddit turned out as it did, but from his work building the RSS standard, to his work architecting Creative Commons, to his work liberating public records, to his work building a free public library, to his work supporting Change Congress/FixCongressFirst/Rootstrikers, and then Demand Progress, Aaron was always and only working for (at least his conception of) the public good.