An Appreciation of Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz, an Internet freedom leader, committed suicide yesterday, January 11, 2013, in New York. On this page of his personal Web site,┬áhe gives instructions about what to do if he gets hit by a truck. One of the instructions: “Feel free to publish things people say about me on the site”.

I have some things to say about you, Aaron:

  • I always felt smaller when I was with you. You were just plain smarter than me. Your cool quiet smirk made me feel like I was catching up all the time. You knew things that I was four sentences away from knowing. Made my mind breathless.
  • Your youth made me feel paternal, and your intellect made me feel little-brother. As the father of two boys and the younger brother of six, I have a lot of experience with both. You made both those cello strings move in me.
  • You had more guts than me. An odd, rock-like purity. Hard, and impermeable. I wished I could be like that, and was also glad that I couldn’t be like that. This is not a comfortable dichotomy.
  • What really made me cry today was Larry: “We are all incredibly sorry to have let you down.”
  • I’m so thankful for what you did with your time on Earth. Thank you.

Earth.

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