If you’ve paid attention to the news recently you might have heard of the death of Internet programmer and activist Aaron Swartz. This may be small solace to his family and friends, but his suicide and the examination of his life and the issues he focused on could finally become the impetus for much needed changes to the way the Internet is governed and distributed.
I can’t begin to understand the causes that led to his suicide. I’m sure the reasons are complex and deeply rooted in Aaron’s personality as well as whatever outside pressures he was under. But as some of the emotional wave in reaction to his death subsides, I am seeing and hearing some really good discussion about the issues he was concerned with: Free flow of information, copyright law, open source, improved and economical bandwidth access for all. If you do much of anything on the Internet, these should be your concerns as well. A great discussion of Aaron’s life and legacy that reaches far beyond the events and causes of his death can be heard on this podcast from KCRW’s To the Point. Check it out.
Some additional links to good coverage:
Prosecutorial overreach is a primary component in the tragedy of Aaron’s death. You can get less time for murder than you will for civil disobedience and protest on the internet.
Please consider signing the petition to remove those responsible from office, make a stand now!
Hard to say why he committed suicide, but a malicious federal prosecution must have been quite a burden for him to bear.
When you do great things to benefit society (and, in fact, the world), and you get beat down for it, there is a severe emotional toll.